Venezuela's electoral numbers 2012: 4- September forecast

And thus we have reached the last stretch, that deadly one month mark where elections are either dead set or where spectacular implosions appear. Both are possible though serious polls at this time reveal either an even race, or a Chavez ahead but Capriles closing the gap at a good pace.

Thursday night on TV there was Christian Burgazzi who was discussing analysis on polls and historical trends. In his opinion the victory of Capriles is almost a given, by 900,000, and he is willing to accept the only trend based analysis of de Silva that gives him as much as a million votes.


I am on record for two things already: on August 24 I gave Capriles the winner. And on September 4 I wrote that the margin of victory depended on the chavista abstention more than any new ability of Capriles to pry further away at Chavez base. So one month before the vote I should complete the detail of my model and differentiate with the other guys (all published together, including YVpolis, the poll slayer).

First a caveat. Those people mentioned above work on that for a living or at least have help or something to figure out their numbers. Not to mention a training for statistics. I do not. I need to work for a living and I can only spend a few hours on electoral number crunching, the more so that it has been months since I have balanced my check book last. Also, I have given up poll analysis long ago except for their trend value (if polls is your thing, go to YVpolis). This is a handicap as it forces me to be conservative, very conservative with my estimates and guess work. The only way I can compensate is relying on my historical knowledge of elections, a little bit of electoral psychology, but mostly on trying to figure out what happens at the local level which maybe my best selling card (not that anyone is willing to pay for my results, no matter how successful I have been recently in my predictions, but I digress…).

All of this being said, there is my final prediction. It does not change from August, I am giving Capriles winning, I am just refining the scenario.

I see two scenarios at this point. The difference between them is strictly due to how successful will Chavez be at rallying his troops in the end. That is, how many of his followers will chose to stay home. After Amuay and the clear polls indications that the Misiones of last year did not pan out as chavismo hoped for, the probability that a large chunk of his voters will stay home is real.

So, scene one, Chavez rallies, Capriles wins by less than 400,000. Scene two, Chavez peters out, his followers are mad at him but not mad enough to vote for Capriles (gratitude for Mercal?). So they punish him by staying home. Capriles wins by more than 500,000 votes. This nuance is important because if Capriles wins by 500,000 at least, chavismo will have a very hard time to cheat and deny the victory. But if Capriles wins by less than 400,000 chavismo will probably attempt a reckless adventure. Between 400 and 500? You got me there!

They key is thus the abstention number. I think we can all agree that the abstention will hurt more Chavez . The Capriles voter is decided to vote for him; and to go and do so no matter what happens until October 7. The Chavez voter is way more emotional. I mean, look at the country! You gotta be in the cult to even consider voting for him. But there is a  “jilted lover feeling” among many of his followers that can wreak havoc as late as October 7, 10 AM.

But what is the abstention potential? In the graph below I have plotted the results of national elections and local elections for Carabobo state. Why Carabobo? Because it has switched sides and came back. Because it is industrial and urban but has a significant rural/provincial component. Because chavismo has had serious inner trouble there and thus it may be a good state to use to guess at “jilted” emotions.

Trends since 2006, National and Carabobo state

Note: no abstention in 2007 as those results HAVE NEVER BEEN MADE PUBLIC IN FULL

We can observe the following.

Sometime Carabobo votes more than the country and sometimes less (the abstention dots).  But all in all it follows the national trend when available.  Interesting the biggest abstention for Carabobo was 2010 even though we can consider it a national election with all but officially Chavez on the ticket.  Thus we have there our first hint at the abstention punishment for Chavez, around a 5-7 % of chavistas that decided to stay home from 2009 to 2010.

Chavismo vote trend is going down even if it picks up occasionally. True, when the vote is clearly about Chavez (2006, 2009) it does best. When it is local it does worst. But in 2010 it was national due to the huge personal involvement of Chavez in the legislative campaign and Chavez only got a “local” vote abstention number.

Thus I can assert with all confidence that there is no way that Chavez will get more than a number of vote between what he got in 2009 and 2010 (one year and a half in between). That is, if all goes well for Chavez, the top vote he can get is around 5.8 millions, 6.3 top. But I am ready to say that he will not get less than 5.3 million no matter what: too many people blackmailed, too many people unwilling to recognize their continuous electoral mistake over the last 13 years.

That is, Chavez abstention number is as high as 500,000; the amount of chavistas that may decide to stay home.

Now, I have written in February 20, solely based on primary results and local trends, that the minimum amount of votes Capriles will get is 5.3 million with a potential of 6.3 million.  But we need to make an additional correction before we go further into his real potential,

The total of possible votes cast may not be much higher than in 2006 but for the sake of the argument let’s imagine that indeed in the kast 6 years we will get 1 million new voters, not necessarily good news for Chavez since they grew up under him and maybe itchy for change for the sake of it. After all, Chavez entourage has visibly grown old and tired whereas Capriles entourage is clearly younger. In 2006 Rosales + Chavez got 11.6 million votes.  I think this year the total will not be more than 12.6, even if we assume that indeed many in the opposition abstained on Rosales and will vote now.

So, if Chavez plus Capriles is 12.6 and Chavez top is 6.3 , does that mean Capriles has 6.3 also?

Which brings us back to my August 24 numbers. My very conservative estimates gave Chavez 5.6 and Capriles 5.7 million with a prediction for September that I now embrace of 5.5 for Chavez and 5.8 for Capriles.

How do I reconcile it all?

I think that Capriles will make it to 6 million in the last month of campaign, but I do not agree with the guys named above that he will pass that mark nor that he will led by a million votes.  What Capriles is winning are those undecided or abstentionist of 2007 and maybe 2010 that are finally moving to the opposition (you know, PPT, PODEMOS et al.) but he is not picking up vote directly from Chavez right now.

Chavez has a bottom floor of 5.3.  Already the drop I see of 100,000 since August is that abstention effect.  And he may lose another 200,000 to abstention and indeed reach that bottom.

My conclusion, being now less conservative than in August, is that the abstention in Chavez camp will give us paradoxically a total number closer than expected to the 11.6 of 2006, probably around 12, where Capriles may pass 6, the minor guys around 0.1 all together, and Chavez floating at 5.7

In short, folks, my forks, million votes

Total votes: 11.6 --- 12.4 
Capriles:  5.8 --- 6.3
Chavez: 5.5 --- 5.9
Other 0.1 --- 0.2
Capriles margin of victory: 0.3 --- 0.7
A margin of victory at best of 7% (46 to 53 with 1% for others)

Capriles good work and the opposition steady congruence since 2008 have allowed it to tie chavismo at around 5.8-6, maybe up to 6.3.  But chavismo loses that tie and drops because many inside will stay home, and that is what gives Capriles margin of victory, at least what is above 0.3

And on this stake I shall impale myself... Not that it matters whether I hit bull's eye or make an ass of myself, because after October 7 it is very unlikely that I will monitor elections this closely again, whomever wins. But that is another story.

NOTE: since there is a month left of campaign I reserve the right to modify these forks. Unless some major disaster happens, Capriles is winning, that will not change, I would just play with the forks.