Quico says: Here's the good news: the opposition stands to make big gains in November's local elections. Why? Because the current crop of incumbent mayors was elected in November 2004, in the depth of the opposition's post Recall Referendum funk, the absolute worst time for us.
Deeply demoralized oppo supporters simply didn't turn out to vote in numbers. Worse yet, the oppo parties failed to hang together, causing a costly split in the oppo vote in a number of important places.
As a result, lots of "natural" oppo territory ended up under chavista management. In fact, just 11 out of the nation's 45 key urban municipios elected oppo mayors in 2004. Those tend to be either smallish "Sifrino Enclave" municipalities (Chacao, San Diego, Lecherías) or in Zulia (Cabimas, San Francisco, Ciudad Ojeda). In fact, the only big city we won in 2004 was Valencia.
Today, oppo mayors run municipios that account for just 2.8 million urban people, while 12.9 million people live in government run urban municipios.
Of particular interest are are the 14 municipios that elected chavista mayors in 2004 but then went against constitutional reform in 2007.
These places are the oppo's best hopes in November, the real races to watch:
That, my friends, is what you call a target rich environment. Almost, every big city municipio is on that list: Maracaibo, Petare, Barquisimeto, Barcelona/Puerto La Cruz, Maracay, Caracas, Ciudad Bolívar. Only Ciudad Guayana and Maturín are missing.
Note that under "2004 Oppo" I'm only listing the votes that the top oppo candidate in each race got that year. In many cases, though, the opposition was running two, three or even four candidates in a given race. Which is why, when you add them all together, you get just 471,000 votes: barely more than half what MVR's winning candidates got.
Just three years later, the oppo turned out 1,576,000 people to vote "No" in those same 14 municipios. Which underscores once again the absolute centrality of agreeing a single candidate per municipio.
Provided unity holds, the oppo really should do well. Tomorrow, we'll know how many of these municipios will have those all-important unity candidates. Over the next few months, we'll be keeping an eye on these races.
(Hat tip to Virginia for up-to-date demographic data. Sad how the population is growing faster in chavista areas than oppo areas, huh?)