Datanalisis’s latest poll is a mixture of the blindingly obvious and the utterly baffling.
On the obvious side, Venezuelans agree the country is in an awful state. In fact, 85% of respondents see the current situation as negative – including 56% of people who self-identify as chavista. On the utterly baffling side, the negative outlook has dropped somewhat, from 90% in April. Sampling error? Are people thinking the protests improve our prospects? Hard to tell.
Amid all the chaos and hunger, you’d expect the bottom would have fallen out of Maduro’s popularity. You’re wrong. The mustachioed one still has an approval rating of 22%. Twenty two!
Some perspective: these are no Chávez numbers, but compared to CAP2, Caldera and his colleagues up and down the continent, he’s doing awesome. He’s in the same neighborhood with presidents whose countries haven’t become Mad Max-style dystopias (Chile’s Bachelet is polling at 26%, Uruguay’s Tabaré Vásquez is at 28%.) He’s more popular than México’s Enrique Peña Nieto and he’s at more than double the level of a properly loathed president: Brazil’s Michel Temer who sits at ten-freaking-percent. And that was in March.
The mustachioed one still has an approval rating of 22%. Twenty two!
Maduro’s popularity has its roots in beliefs – at least in part. A May study, also from Datanalisis, shows how inflation is perceived among groups (chavista, oppo and neither-nors). Chavistas are more likely to think inflation won’t have an impact on their purchasing power, even though a large majority of Venezuelans feel like inflation far exceeds any pay increase.
The more recent study was designed to tell us what Venezuelans think about the National Constituent Assembly (ANC). Unsurprisingly, 69% oppose it, and 85% argue that what we need is to enforce the current Constitution (including a chavista majority here).
Finally, a sky-high 86% of Datanalisis respondents think a referendum is needed to call a Constituent Assembly. This isn’t a shocker and does make evident why Chavismo fears a referendum prior to the ANC as if it were the plague.
Venezuela is far from a 50-50 country. Right now there’s an absolutely overwhelming majority in favor of change. And yet it’s important to understand – baffling though it may seem – that Maduro retains significant support. It’s a minority. It’s less than a quarter of the country. But it’s not some kind of fringe position.