November 16, 2008

23N Map: Huggy Bear Edition

Quico says: I'm still looking for a bird's eye view of what to expect from next Sunday's state and local elections, but with polling spotty and mostly private, disinformation rife and most media concentrating on their local races only, it's tough going.

The not-always-reliable newsweekly Quinto Día gets props for at least trying to provide the Whole Picture as far as governors' races go, something the big national dailies don't seem to be even striving for.

Quinto Día's
method is not exactly scientific: basically, they got on the phone and called 52 local journos all over the country, asking them what the "word on the street" is. Call it the Huggy Bear approach to election forecasting.

This map is cobbled together from my subjective synthesis of what their subjective reporting based on subjective assessments of subjective informants found:

So word on the street has the opposition up in 6 states - including the 3 most populous - chavismo up in 11 (plus Caracas), chavista dissidents ahead in 3, and 2 states as genuine toss-ups.

Obviously there are all kinds of pitfalls to this kind of forecasting, with various informants clearly having a stake in "pushing" their favorite candidates/compadres to a national audience. (Have I hedged this map enough yet?)

Still and all, some things jump out at you:

Local journos in Falcón and Cojedes don't think the election is a done deal yet. In Miranda, you have as many opinions as interviewees - though Diosdado's very high negatives make it hard to imagine him winning - and in Mérida and Bolívar any outcome seems likely. Even at this late stage, internal splits look like they will cost the government Carabobo and the opposition Anzoátegui, and possibly Bolívar as well.

My sense is that the real uncertainty next Sunday will be over Mérida, Bolívar and - especially - Miranda. But Huggy Bear says keep an eye on Falcón, too, where the oppo candidate has been making up ground against the outgoing governor's doña, who was once seen as a shoo in.

My favorite bit of this map, though, is that southernmost patch of deep green covering Chávez's home state, where his brother Adan now looks all but certain to lose the governorship to the ex-chavista, now oppositionish mayor of Barinas City.

I spent a few months in Barinas back in 2001-2002, and I was always amazed to witness the contrast between people's fervent devotion to Hugo Chávez and their visceral disgust with his family. The Chávez Clan (mom, dad, ne'er-do-well brothers) has ruled the state as a personal fiefdom for years, barely even bothering to dissimulate its corruption. Their opponent this time is a kind of llanero technocrat by the name of Julio Cesar Reyes. He's a genuinely popular figure down there, and the psychological impact for chavismo of losing on such symbolically loaded turf is very hard to overstate.