In a recent Venezuelan opinion poll of almost 19,000 citizens in all areas of the country, Henrique Capriles, the candidate opposing Chavez, beating the Socialist leader with a 52% majority, well outside the margin of error of 1.5%. This result has apparently panicked the regime, because a Facebook page reporting on the poll has been shut down after being repeatedly “spammed” with spam reports. You can find information about this poll and daily, sometimes hourly election issues and updates here.
This poll is broken down by income level and state, and has some truly shocking results. No surprise, the higher income groups give Capriles his highest margin, with an advantage of 62% (81 to 19). The middle income, there is still a respectable spread of 8% (54 to 46), with the lower income groups giving Chavez a slight edge of 4% (52 to 48). Looking at the 26 to 45 age group, women give Capriles an advantage of 24%, and men favor Capriles by 16%.
Keep in mind, as I have written before, the “fear factor”, which must be considered in any poll taken in public, as this one was. A generally accepted figure of around 20% difference between polls taken in private and polls taken in public actually gives Capriles an edge of upwards of 20%. This is a huge lead, but anyone who has lived through this regime would tell you it is impossible to judge how much of this will translate to the ballot box.
Additionally, there is a real possibility of violent political demonstration in regards this upcoming election, to the level that a former US diplomatic official has written a contingency plan for just this possibility. Chavez has already threatened just such action, and the consequences for all of South America cannot be overstated. This is a pivotal moment, and the country and region could well be in the balance.
One other thing… I cannot help but think that the recent terrorism and attacks against US embassies has played in the hands of the Chavez regime, to the extent that it has taken any amount of attention the US government would be paying to this election and focused it elsewhere.