November 28, 2008

The Urban-Rural Split in Numbers

Quico says: So I wanted to take a more systematic look at the Urban-Rural split in Sunday's elections. Here's what I did:

Using data from the 2000 Census (out of date, but the best we have) - I made a simple ranking of municipios according to the percentage of its inhabitants living in apartments. I think that's a reasonable proxy for the "urbanness" of a place - certainly, it's the best we can do with Census data.

With that list, it was easy to figure out that half of the Venezuelan population lives in 52 municipios where more than 6% of residents live in apartments, and the other half live in the remaining 286 municipios, where less than 6% of the residents call an apartment home. Lets call those first 52 municipios the Urban Half, the remaining 286 the Rural Half.

(Caveat: this is an approximation. As everyone knows, Venezuela is about 85% urban, so the "rural" half still contains places like San Juan de los Morros that a geographer would probably call urban: for our purposes, all that matters is that places like that are "less urban than the place where the average Venezuelan lives.")

Next, I made this spreadsheet looking at the results of races for mayor in the Urban Half.

First things first: the opposition won just 16 of those 52 municipios, while PSUV won 36. Overall, PSUV-backed candidates took 46.5% of the vote in the Urban Half, the main opposition candidates took 44.6%. Chavista dissidents (PPT, PCV and MEP candidates in places where they weren't backing the PSUV guy) got 1.8% and microparties got 1.7% of the vote.

But - and here's the dousy - Opposition Disunity candidates took 5.4% of the vote in the Urban Half. Enough to doom us in more than a few municipios.

Nonetheles, in the Urban Half, anti-Chávez candidates won more votes than chavista candidates.

Lump the PPTistas and commies in with PSUV, and the oppo disunity guys with the mainline oppo, and the election in the Urban Half of the country came out like this:

This next part is more approximative.

It would've been way too time-consuming to calculate another spreadsheet for 286 bumf*#k nowhere rural counties, so I cheated. I subtracted each side's urban votes from its nationwide vote for governor, and called the difference its rural vote. For comparability's sake, I also chucked out the microparties.

That yielded this rough-and-ready estimate of the Urban-Rural split:

Chavismo's entire advantage is down to a better than 3-to-2 split in the Rural Half!

Or, coming at it from a different angle, 60% of opposition votes come from the Urban Half, while just 47% of chavismo's votes nationwide come from the 52 most urban municipios.

Which, I still think, pretty much tells the story of this election.