Chavismo’s generalized freakout over the selection of a Nazi Zionist gay fraudster TFP-member bent on world domination as Opposition Unity Candidate has been troubling to watch, but stepping back, what are we likely to remember about Sunday?
- The marginalization of the old guard: AD’s inability to mobilize a majority for its candidate in any state other than Delta Amacuro – the only state outside of Zulia where Pablo Pérez won, barely – was remarkable. So too was Copei’s inability to even come close to delivering Táchira, where Capriles trounced Pérez. This dramatically re-arranges the incentives within the MUD. It empowers Capriles and his allies, while it marginalizes the remaining toxic assets around the unity table (cough-cough-ramosallup-cough.) Capriles probably has no choice but to cozy up to the UNT-machine in Zulia, which it will need in October. But the rest of the Old Guard will find its room to maneuver severely constrained.
- Early and disciplined beats late and scattered: Capriles’s candidacy was announced in September of 2010. Pérez announced in August of 2011. Capriles had a clear message from the start, whereas Pérez and Machado tried out different things (“Por tu futuro Seguro,” “Tarjeta única,” “Abajo cadenas,” “Vota duro,” “Capitalismo popular”). Even Leopoldo seemed confused, talking about “La Mejor Venezuela” while jumping over office furniture. Ultimately, the voter knew exactly what the Capriles campaign was about. Did they know what the other ones were about? Relentless discipline and an early start carried the day.
- The collapse of opposition radicalism: With less than 5% of the vote between them, the opposition’s three radicals discovered the actual limits to their brand of politics. The fact that one of the three was the smartest, most articulate, hardest-working candidate in the race, and was well-funded to boot, only underscores that the problem was the message. The cabezas calientes will remain hot-headed, but their claim to represent anything beyond a marginal fringe has lost any credibility. This is a good and blessed thing.
- The possibility of competing without a lot of resources: Let’s face it, if turnout estimates were low before Sunday’s vote, it’s largely because we thought mobilizing people on a shoestring was going to be hard. Without proper access to the air-waves, running campaigns that were precariously funded at best, it was far from clear we would be able to turn out more than a million and a half people or so. We doubled that, even though the nation’s millions of public employees were essentially forbidden to participate.
- Opinion polls worked: You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, the mantra-like repetition: “Esas encuestas son chimbas.” There is this perception that proper polling is impossible to do in Venezuela. This is nonsense. Putting aside Jesse Chacón’s absurd rants, serious pollsters such as Datanálisis, Consultores 21, and Varianzas not only predicted a Capriles win, but also a few of the local races. For example, Datanálisis correctly predicted Muchacho would beat the incumbent Graterón in tiny Chacao. Varianzas correctly predicted Uzcátegui would beat Blyde, albeit the got the margin wrong, probably due to some late developments in that race. Datanálisis predicted Ocariz would beat Mendoza. All in all, a good day for serious pollsters.
- The Government’s political radar is faltering: It seems clear chavismo expected much, much lower turnout, and was caught off-guard by the results, having to improvise a rash power play for the voter rolls that ended up being easily defused by the MUD. As the premiere consumers of their own insane propaganda, chavistas have crippled their own ability to understand what is going on around them.
- Caracas Chronicles for the win: If you read Caracas Chronicles, you knew there were no national exit polls, so immediately you would have known some people were echoing completely made-up numbers. If you read Caracas Chronicles, you knew about the brilliant quick count, designed by loyal reader and friend Omar, that nailed the results almost to a T. If you read Caracas Chronicles, you were also among the first to know Capriles had won the election. We work hard for you guys and we put our credibility on the line. When we call an election, we try to do it quickly and accurately. We make mistakes sometimes, but we try to get things right. And we can recognize BS from a mile away. Keep that in mind next October 7th.