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Arthur Shaw: Why is Hugo Chavez so irresistible to the electorate now?

By Arthur Shaw  Posted by Roy S. Carson (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reached the end of 2009, supported by 60.3% of his country's citizens, according to poll results, based on a survey of 1200 people, released Thursday, December 31, 2009, by Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD).

Bourgeois liberals control IVAD at the top and, below, the Institute is largely staffed by middle class liberals. Most likely, there is not even one Marxist-Leninist on IVAD's premises or ever been on IVAD premises. In the past IVAD has, on occasion, has been disparaging of the Venezuela Revolution but occasionally IVAD has been supportive, too.

IVAD is an outlet of the bourgeois media in Venezuela but, unlike most of the bourgeois media in Venezuela, is not known for an irrepressible propensity to tell lies, whether the falsities seem to favor revolution or ideological neutrality or counter-revolution.

Here are IVAD findings.

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How would you rate the performance of Hugo Chavez as President?
Excellent 18.4%
Good 41.8%
Average to good 22.9%
Average to bad 5.7%
Bad 5.5%
Terrible 4.6%

Given the yearlong campaign of defamation and misinformation by the bourgeois media against Hugo Chavez, these numbers are stunning.

Four of the six labels used to express approval or scorn -- i.e., terrible, bad, good, and excellent -- are clear and concise. The other two labels average to good and average to bad -- are not so clear and not so concise. But despite their lack of clarity, the latter two labels still seem useful because they throw some light on lukewarm voters, a key category of the electorate that is often ignored. Lukewarm voters are key because they are more likely to switch either approval or disapproval on job performance or switch candidate preference than the decided voter. These voters tended to rate Chavez's job performance either excellent or terrible.

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So, according to the IVAD December 31 poll, well over 80% of the Venezuelan people believe Hugo Chavez is either average or good or excellent, with half of them believing that Chavez is good, with about a quarter of the people thinking Chavez is excellent and the remaining quarter judging him as only average. These findings are stunning because even if the bourgeois media manages to brainwash all of the 22.9% of the people who have the "average to good" label pinned on them, Hugo Chavez still wins by a whopping 18 points. This 18-point win presupposes that the electorate votes for candidates whom the electorate believes are doing an excellent, good, or average job in office.

The working class media (especially in Cuba) and the bourgeois media (especially in the USA) focus their attention on Chavez' 60% job approval. This 60% is the sum of those who believe Hugo Chavez is excellent and those who believe he is good. The 60% number ignores those who believe Chavez is "average to good."

I believe that both the bourgeois and working class media focus on the 60% job approval number for Chavez rather than the above-discussed 80% number because neither the "average to good" nor the "average to bad" label is clear and concise.

Since the findings of the IVAD poll are the consensus of series of recent polls from a variety of ideological sources, it is unlikely that the bourgeois media, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and US imperialists will spend much time trying to discredit the IVAD poll on the ground of alleged political partiality.

It may be useful to compare and contrast two recent polls by IVAD and the Associated Press (AP). IVAD is a job approval and AP is a preference poll. IVAD polled adults and AP polled only "likely voters." The AP preference poll translates into job approval more readily than the IVAD job approval poll translates into preference.

Manuel Rosales, Hugo Chavez's primary challenger in the upcoming presidential election, is under indictment for corruption and he is also a fugitive from justice hiding in Peru, because he is unable or unwilling to explain how he accumulated $8,000,000 in personal assets on a Zulia State Governor's salary between 2002-2004.

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Despite his criminal background, Manuel Rosales is still the main challenger of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as Chavez seeks a third presidential term. Chavez therefore will likely run against a confirmed crook that the bourgeois-led opposition in Venezuela adores.

Venezuelan law does not let a person criminally charged or convicted of corruption even run for public office but the opposition still promotes Rosales candidacy in the upcoming presidential race.

In the AP poll, about 59% of likely voters said they would vote for Chavez for a third term, while 27% said they would support opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Thirteen percent of those surveyed said they were undecided or they refused answer. Since the conventional wisdom about politics in Venezuela is that the opposition owns about 42% of the electorate, the 27% that Rosales got the AP poll seems to spell disaster for the opposition. After all, Rosales' paltry 27% in the AP poll constitutes a 33% drop in support for the opposition since this year's Feb. 15 referendum on the constitutional amendment. This drop implies that the base of the opposition is finally breaking up.

Why is Hugo Chavez so irresistible to the electorate now?

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