Stepping back

Pity the dinosaurs

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

39 thoughts on “Stepping back

  1. I’ll see your comeflorismo and raise it to my “radicalism” by supporting individual responsibility and a smaller government (among other “outrageous” stuff).

    • Ricardo, I think you landed in the wrong blog. You wanted to comment on the US race.

      We are trying to talk here about a country with feudal conditions, where indeed there is a lot of clientelism and freebies that make no sense (petrol subsidies for the better-off, handouts without work, etc) but where pupils in national schools don’t have books (Texas and every other state of the US guarantees that with state – government – money, your taxes), where health services are dismal (I see a good system here in Europe and in Canada, we can have a little bit of that and not collapse, it’s much less money than what goes into weapons), where LAND OWNERSHIP has not even gone through the processes it went in Europe 300 centuries ago, where land ownership still follows very Middle Age principles and where the vast majority of Venezuelans outside some urbanizations and main cities do not have rights to the land their house is in and where thousands of big landowners don’t have kosher papers on land property (only those against the government are attacked, but this is a hot potato no one wants to tackle)

      • Kepler you are correct ( this time) in making the comparison with the US.In Venezuela the poor are not even marginally taken into account.Conditions are and have ALWAYS been abysmal.Cheap gas? The booby prize.

        The problem with land ownership has existed in different forms since I can remember ( late 60′s more or less)….along the years I have been witnessing ‘educated’ people bullying uneducated campesino land owners stealing their properties in and around San Sebastian and San Juan de los Morros…I saw corrupt judges selling land near Caracas that was already owned.I saw middle class people who were charged so much by the tax department that they lost their apartments because the taxes were more than the price of the apartments, I saw women whose husbands took all the property and left them with nothing…and all this I saw in relative abundance, and what were the answers given to the victims? ” No recourse” No Justice!”That is it.If you complain, I throw you in jail.The level of corruption has been incredible!!!!!!!!

        Venezuela has an obligation towards this situation.It has to create a decent level of equal opportunity for those living outside the ranks of privilege.

        But ‘comeflorism’ is never the answer,because it is naive and naivety only leads to more domination by those who will take advantage.

        The damaging ‘comeforlism’ is not in the help given to the disenfranchised.No senior! The comeflorsim that is so dangerous is the kind that does not call a ‘spade a spade’ and demand justice for the crimes committed in the name of lies.Without a commitment to justice, injustice will continue.

        I distrust people who try to misnomer justice by calling it vengeance.Vengeance would be unfair , justice is fair.

    • Lavici,
      Thanks for giving us publicity over at The Huffington Post comments. Much appreciated.

      • de nada JC… a pleasure for me to have your english written intelligent savvy blog to back up my opinions or point of view..
        most north americans posting @huffpost totally confuse being liberal, with chavez’s ideological “leftist”-fascist fidelista pastiche. so, i really become :p super ultra hartísima, when i try to explain things here are not simply red or blue, liberal or republican… but nada, 0, zero zich… i’m a rabid “michelle buchanan”
        if I write against the atropellos here which they wouldn’t accept for two seconds in good ole’ US of A, and they accuse me of being “a tea party sarah palin” and not backing up dear nice hugorobin hood, i always ask them how come they can patronize us about what we should be happy about, while drinking their soy lattes in any starbucks wearing their ché guevara tshirts with a noam chomsky under their arm, while -imperfect but none the less, democratic- separate institutions work from 9-5 for them, with electricity, water, security et al being taken for granted, instead of coming on down, to experience life here in las adjuntas, el 23 de enero en la piedrita,…. or parapara, up close and personal. for maybe six months? so… de nada JC thanks for reading my rant :D

        • Kepler’s right. While blogging is not your full-time job, you certainly put in the same dedication as if it were. The least we can do is helped defray hosting expenses, or hell, buy you a beer or two.

  2. It is a good summary, Quico. Though it must be said that AD carried a hefty number of alcaldías and a couple of governorships. Not a bad haul… Let us remember that supporting HCR was never AD’s card, and they selected Pablo Perez over Ledezma; it was a good move.

    Alas, you have usually overestimated the power of the “dinosaurs” (as well as that of the “maquinaria”, as if HCR lacked one…). The MUD still stands as is (because the transfer from the Mesa to the Comando was part of the previous agreements, and because there’s still the need to organise a national campaign, without gagging the candidate (who leads and defines the message)), even if the power dynamics might change a bit, there’s little reason to have them cast away. Having said that, it could be a good time for challengers within AD or Copei to move forward and try to seize power.

    Disclaimer: I might be one of the few persons in the planet who is fond of Henry Ramos… Am I perhaps a paleo-politologo?

    • Perhaps you are a political palaeontologist? There are some anthropologists who have plastic Neanderthal skull key rings, virologists who wear T-shirts with streptococcus images…they develop some kind of fascination for the creates they study, whether extinct or not.

    • haha, paleo-politologo, good name. I have a love-hate relationship wiht HRA, I think the guy is brilliant, love how he can destroy someone with one witty comment, but I resent that he does not seem to put the needs of Venezuela at the front of the needs of his party. But again, we need him on the MUD and I am glad he is at least respecting the rules.

      • i for one,cannot stand :P the man… yuck, his voice, his attitude etc etc…
        once we met by chance in libroria, so i decided to ask him how come he called for abstención, if he realized the political cost of walking out of the congressional elections? you guys should have seen him victimizing himself: “you think it’s easy being a politician? you have to understand that being a politician is oh so hard… the have even thrown a buckrtfull sh___ at me”
        so, as:
        1) i hate victimization in any way shape or form
        2) specially using it as an argument in the said walking out of that election which has brought so many problems on us…
        3) i don’t even like his tone of voice
        i confess got really angry, i made him see he did not choose to become an engineer or a biologist, etc… and that the bucketful also comes with the territory baby…. as i said so lame :P and by the way i haven’t forgotten LL also called for abstención.
        but i do like his voice …

  3. After the amazing success of these preliminary elections, it’s going to get nasty and very dirty:
    Chavistas are already crying fraud and attacking Capriles personally, heavily.

    They will resort to any measure to remain in power: too many more millions left to steal. They won’t go out quietly. They’ll try everything: fraud with the voting system, messing with the machines, the CNE, whatever. They’ll bribe left and right, they’ll instigate fear. Extorsion, violence, you name it. And of course, despicable personal attacks as we saw yesterday already, against Capriles’ background.

    I’m sincerely afraid they could steal the elections 7 months from now. They are devious enough, tricky, vicious and amoral. And they don’t want to give up power and fortune.

  4. Someone here, I think it was Barreda, was not sure if Chavistas would go all the way, read: kill someone.

    I am convinced a certain group of them will. They did it twice in 1992. Several of their deputies have been involved in killing people for political gain or for psychopath pleasure before: PSUV deputy Cordero (involved in the Masacre de Cantaura), Chacín (idem).
    Many of them would only go half-way: mobbing, threatening…

    We have to be prepared.
    Left extremists and people joining them because of the opportunity that gives them for sadism/getting money/power can sabotage a lot, infiltrate, promote infiltration and so on. Without becoming paranoid, I think we need to be very prepared.
    That does not mean retorting to their ways, but knowing how to defend oneself, document, make things public, put more pressure on the general public everywhere.

  5. Quico, I think that Pablo Perez lack of charisma and scattered message had a lot to do with the “marginalization of the old guard”. AD is not what it was, but it is not dead by any means. I think that if Chavez loses in october many “Chavistas” would run to renew their AD carnets.

  6. I would add: timely MUD burning of cuadernos. Talk about being prepared for pushback at the autocracy. *That*, I will remember. Think about how badly this could have turned…

  7. Francisco,

    Good analysis. And on your last point, I agree that some back patting is in order. You guys have done a spectacular job over the last week. Congratulations and thanks for all your hard work.

  8. Speaking of point #7, I have always believed you guys are well connected (están bien dateados pues) as I remember reading first about 2004 Referendum lost here, long before Carrasquero announces the final verdict and by the time exit polls gave “Si” a big win. Kudos!!!

  9. Dear Quco:

    I love your Spanish-isms sprinked into English:
    “The ‘cabezas calientes’ will remain hot-headed…”

    These expressons have a certain “je ne sais pas”.
    …but I don’t know what it is.

    :o)

    Deedle

    • Deedle,

      Before Daniel Duquenel unloads on you, the expression is “je ne sais quoi”:

      Def. an indefinable quality, esp of personality
      [literally: I don't know what]

      • Dear Roy:
        Thanks!

        I was about to “update” myself to “je ne sais qua”, showing even more of my ignorance. As the Germans would say: ” Ve should not die Languages mixen…”

        I don’t know what that is, either.

        :o)

        Quico gets to laugh three times.

        Deedle

  10. quico in # 5 you forgot to mention “datos” i have it from the horse’s mouth that he is THE most serious pollster of all. no TV diva, very discreet, so much so that i haven’t read or heard from them lately… so i don’t if saade is still around?

  11. 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.
    Some exit polls were why some suspected fraud in the 2004 RR.

  12. You guys truly have an amazing blog. I must have checked it at least 20 times on sunday (imagine how many times ill do that on the 7O lol). There are several other sites I go on every now and then as well as some friends and relatives in Venezuela that are either politicians or work for political campaigns. I always get the right information from this site first. Keep it up guys. Looking forward to that post on the night of october 7th when we all get to celebrate a new start for our beloved Venezuela.

  13. “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.”
    I am taking the liberty of ascertaining that this statement referred to Maria Corina. And although I agree that she was, indeed, the smartest, most articulate and hardest working, unfortunately your assertions as to her funding remain an unfulfilled wish for all of us who worked in her campaign… I´ll even go as far as to say that her LACK of funds, relative to other contenders, was one of many factors playing into her dissapointing results. Especially with regards to mass media ads (impossible to keep up with the impressive PJ coffers that ran 7 minute ad blocs in primetime), and most importantly, with regards to the amount of resources that unfortunately MUST be spent on election day ( mobilization of witnesses, food, logistics, tarjetas de teléfono, materials, etc.).
    Just a clarification, en honor a la verdad….

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