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A poll worth discussing: Chavez barely leads Rosales?

By Daniel Duquenal

16.11.06 | The Penn, Schoen & Berland poll is out and the results are good. Not as good as I would have liked, but still quite good, and more importantly, in fact crucially more importantly, much more reflective of what we feel is going on, that air du temps that does not lie when it tells us that Chavez might still win the election, but it is not going to be a rollover for him.

In brief

Since September, the previous Penn et al. poll, Rosales has narrowed the gap by half. Now, with a 3% statistical error, Rosales is at 42% and Chavez at 48%. That means the election is not yet in a statistical tie, but close to become one. The first conclusion that the pollster reported is that no matter what will happen in the last days of the campaign, the final result will be a close one.

Interestingly the issues that favor Rosales are as expected crime, and less expected, the cash program "Mi Negra" where even a significant chunk of chavista electors find it a good offer.

But the more important thing is that Penn et al. say that their result are based on a methodology which tried as much as possible to obviate the "fear factor" in the people polled. That is, utmost care was taken to make sure the interviewed person would express his/her opinion without fearing that it would be known. This is in stark contrast to the recent polls that were made by sub-sub-contractors, either over the phone or house visits or something like that, as it is done in countries where your job does not depend on your political opinion.


Then Douglas Schoen went on to explain that in his long experience as a pollster, his two polls confirm that the momentum is with Rosales. He was careful not to predict a victor and insisted on saying that the election would be close no matter what. However he also added that people undecided at this point in general tend to split more towards the opposition than toward the sitting administration. The argument is quite simple, if after 8 years you are still undecided then chances are that you will either not vote or go to the opposition if you decide to go out and vote anyway.

In other words the implication is that the there are enough undecided voters left for Rosales to be even with Chavez on election day. Which led to a further suggestion: plenty of exit polls, they will be essential this time.

My thoughts?

Well, to begin with yours truly is already giving a 6% only advance over Rosales based simply on what he knows about Venezuela, on how the electoral vote moves in different states. Maybe it is a personal model, but it is nice to see that Douglas Schoen does not disagree with me.

And why do I chose to highlight this poll? To begin with it was presented much more seriously than other polls that look today definitively like a Mickey Mouse construct. But better: Mr. Schoen referred to AKSA/Keller as saying that they use his type of methodology and they also find similar results, a tightening of the race. That is enough for me. Though of course I will wait for some one to send me the details to make a final assesment.

By the way, Alek Boyd was at the press conference of Douglas Schoen, translating the pollster's words. Bloggers go places!

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