Lara’s 7-O

The person that should be more worried about the October 7th results in Lara State: The Chavista mayor of Cabudare, Richard Coroba.

With three official CNE bulletins under our belts, we can review how Lara voters acted in comparison to the last presidential vote.

First, the general outcome is that Chávez narrowly held Lara. However, he lost a lot of support here. In 2006, the comandante presidente won with 66,47% of votes, to 33,02% against Manuel Rosales.

Last Sunday, Chávez won with only 51,03% of the vote. Henrique Capriles got 48,17%. That’s one hell of a swing, but it wasn’t enough to turn the state blue.

In number of votes, Chávez went from 515,715 votes six years ago to 482,286. That’s 33,429 fewer votes for Chavismo. Meanwhile, the opposition almost doubled its votes: from 257,587 in 2006 to 455,317 in 2012. The MUD increased its tally by almost 200,000 votes.

Chavismo’s local heads, Luis Reyes Reyes (father and son) have reason to worry about these results. But there are some good news for them here as well. The devil is in the details.

Capriles carried the capital Barquisimeto by five points, while six years ago Chávez won decisively 2-to-1. This is a massive sea-change in the Musical Capital of Venezuela.

HCR didn’t just keep the opposition’s stronghold of Eastern Barquisimeto, but took a key section of the downtown area from the reds (Parroquia Concepción) and made serious inroads in the Western part of the city. In Parroquia Juan de Villegas, for example: Chávez won just like in 2006, but he lost 20% in 2012. Same pattern in working class areas in the north of the city.

What’s more, Capriles took the middle class suburb of Cabudare from Chavismo. Chávez won by 10 points in 2006 but now Capriles turned it around to a 20-point lead. Amazing. The surburban area could switch sides in the local elections, as the opposition is united behind one candidate (unlike in 2008). Capriles also took Duaca and transformed it from a safe chavista area into a deadheat.

Then comes Carora, a mid-size town where Capriles had a very good rally back in September. Chávez won 2-to-1 there in 2006 and lost some ground now, but he kept it after all. Same thing in happened in El Tocuyo, Quibor, Sanare and Siquisique, but by a lesser margin than in Carora. Capriles went there during the course of the campaign.

And then there’s Sarare, located in the border with Portuguesa State. Chavismo had no problem there and Henrique didn’t bother to come. It went from 80-20 then to 75-25 now.

Rural areas gave Chávez a solid barrier that overcame the losses on the large urban areas. The same thing happened more or less across the country. El campo es rojo, rojito.

There has been some serious erosion from chavismo here. The Chavista mayors of Barquisimeto, Cabudare and Duaca should be concerned. The role of Governor Falcon had a noticeable effect here. The key for him is to keep people motivated and insist with moderate Chavistas that him can serve as a possible political counterweight.

Reyes Reyes (Sr.) doesn’t have a safe path to victory in the upcoming election on December 16th. He must gamble on trying to turnout his base and suppress opposition turnout. The good news for him is that Chávez will help him out, the the bad news is he’s no Chávez and people still remember his previous eight years in office. No está fácil…

In the end Lara didn’t end up being a bellweather state. The vote shifted internally in complicated ways, but the state was certainly more Capriles-friendly than the norm. December 16th will be mighty interesting here.

49 thoughts on “Lara’s 7-O

  1. In the 1990s, famous papers (e.g., Ed Gibson; Bruce Kay) showed a similar a phenomenon regarding the big caudillos of the time: Menem, Fujimori and the PRI became majoritarian because they became largely hegemonic in rural zones, less so in cities.

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  2. Nice analysis!

    Some reasonable voices inside the opposition have been talking about a swing to the left inside the opposition camp. Capriles tried that, but most people did not like his sales pitch. Could it be that we have to go further left and give Henri Falcon a test drive? Hay un camino, pero que pasa por Lara?

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  3. I would still call Lara a bellweather. It’s a clear indication how one of the most chavista states can basically become a tie.

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    • And that in order to do well in these states, we need a strong regional leadership, people whom both oppos and chavistas from the state respect.

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  4. This is probably a biased opinion…. But I think we have a massive work to do if we want to convert chavistas into something else. Basically, as Capriles said, we are fighting against the Venezuelan state rather than a political contender. They have poured tons of money into the rural areas (mostly on pure expense transfers… virtually non-investment) and they have become “addicted” to receive this type of “help”. Chavismo is only investing in creating an electoral base (i.e. more poor people dependant on state transfers). Is going to be difficult to achieve any positive result unless oil prices plunge for at least a couple of years; if that happens forget about swing states… no money no chavistas. Is that simple…

    Btw – What a poorly conceived campaign for HCR on the international media!! Here in the UK, he was barely mentioned during the 3 weeks before the elections. Nowadays, that’s an important part of any electoral process globally.

    Un saludo y pa’ lante!!

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    • I perceive the UK with its severely marked caste system as pinko, grosso modo. It’s no surprise, then, that the BBC has churned out, for over a decade, favourable reports of “the revolution”. The NY-based VIO knew its market, if it still exists, feeding the international news media with the wonders of chavismo. Even when Rory Carroll recentlly issued his more balanced overview in The Guardian, he chose to colour Chávez et al with words that portrayed him in a strong light. To do otherwise, would have given The Guardian readers apoplexy.

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      • Truth… you only have to read the comments in The Guardian to realize how well-oiled the chavista propaganda machine is. It’s an utter disgrace. I’ve been called “oligarch” by London boys. I would pay to see them living in Lidice (where I grew up) for a couple of months….

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    • I won’t do another state because I live in Lara and I have other stories to focus on. But the case of Lara can be somehow applied to the rest of country. Capriles won big cities, fought hard for the middle-size populations and Chavez won big in the rural areas.

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  5. I think there are important take-aways here:
    1) Capriles’ visit to Cabudare seems to have had an effect in comparison to similar municipalities; the MUD should check if this is true with the other 280 towns that were visited (or something to crowdsource in this blog). If this is the case, then Capriles should not go back to Miranda, but spend the next 6 years in rural areas. I suggest he becomes the shadow minister of follow-up, taking Chavista promises to account all over the country
    2) Good local leadership helps (Henri Falcón in Lara), so the elections for Governors in December are very important and good managers are needed in the state house
    3) The Chavez-light + better management theme seems the right way to go, but very hard to pull off when the other side is the one with the purse strings

    Interesting questions remaining:
    1) How many votes did Falcón’s party (AP) get in Lara in absolute and relative terms? as this may be a good measure of the Falcón effect in Lara
    3) What percentage of AP’s votes came from Lara?
    2) As suggested above, should Henri Falcón have a bigger role nationally?

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  6. That pattern is national. See this graph. Capriles did very well in mid-sized and large mesas, but had an extremely poor lead in small (rural) ones. That’s where Chávez got the bulk of his lead, piece by piece, by something like a 2:1 ratio.

    I suspect that this played a huge role in pollster bias, who probably collected most of their samples in urban zones. In fact, the Varianzas exit polls were quite close to the final outcomes in the largest cities.

    But, here’s the good news: it is perfectly possible for the opposition to make inroads in rural areas. The experience in Mérida is evidence of that. Outside the capital city of Mérida, the state is largely rural and agricultural. And still, not only did Capriles win in the capital (le dio hasta con el tobo: 63%), but he did a great job in some rural areas because he actually visited them. That little puppy that he carried on his hands during the campaign was a gift from his supporters when he visited the small rural town of Mucuchies, where he won with 52%; he also grabbed Zea, Tovar and Jají while losing Bailadores and Chachopo by a narrow margin. These are all rural areas that voted mostly for Chávez in 2006.

    In fact, the areas that stayed with Chávez, like El Vigia, Nueva Bolivia (a.k.a. la parte gocha de Caja Seca) and La Azulita, were just not visited and the opposition did a poor campaign there. I drove through these places a month ago and didn’t see many vallas or pancartas for Capriles, but a lot of corazón de mi patria.

    My conclusion: rural people are just a lot more conservative and for them Capriles was an unknown character who didn’t take or have the time to introduce himself (with the customary firm hand, look in the eye and larger physical distance), but Chávez was very well known to them. Some might not even like the guy, but hey: más vale malo por conocido que bueno por conocer. That was the principle they applied; can you blame them?

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    • el mejor análisis que he leído, referente a Mérida, y por ende, al resto del país. gracias, dirichlet. Hay un camino! Henrique tiene muuucho trabajo por hacer, fuera de Miranda. Y por supuesto, el pueblo venezolano tiene que madurar más para aceptar un futuro menos paternalista.

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    • “Capriles was an unknown character who didn’t take or have the time to introduce himself …” Agreed. In fact, someone (either here or somewhere else) quoted Pablo Perez after a recent defeat as saying “No nos faltaron votos, nos faltó tiempo…” Why was it that this election was moved up from December to now?

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      • hmmm, good points. For it’s true, the timing for Capriles was waay too condensed for a relatively new politico (regarding the national scene). But also, I think the elections were moved up because perhaps in December, Chávez will be in slightly worse shape than now. Assuming, of course, that he actually has cancer.

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        • C’mon people, I am seeing a lot of this “New politico” thing around but let’s remember that Henrique’s been around at least as long as Chávez has. He has been a diputado, a president of Congress, Baruta Mayor, a political prisoner, a state governor… an at-the-time much lesser known guy, from an outlying state, with a controversial family background and a REALLY funny name took less than 10 years from relative obscurity to the FREAKING PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES!

          What I mean is that we Venezuelans have to face the facts, Chávez still has a bigger appeal to the masses than a Patiquín Caraqueño. And I don’t think that is what he is per-se, but he is a well-educated, well-groomed guy from a high-middle class family from the capital, with a foreign last name (why he’s kept the Radonski eludes me, seeing how people look at Petkoff when the guy is more Venezuelan than a Hallaquita). What I mean is that it is very easy to campaign against him in those terms, especially with a rank-and-file caudillo-esque figure like the president on the other side… Still much road to traverse…

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          • And on a unrelated note, Kudos to Gustavo for his extremely fact-based analysis of Lara, the REAL corazón de la patria! Ná Guará!

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    • There look like to be not an insignificant number of mesas where HRC gets 100 % of the votes or very close, with less than five votes for HCR. You do not see any mesas for HCR with this behavior.

      Is there a common thread for this tables in favor of HRC ?

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    • Cort, I am still waiting to see if you will take me up on that walking tour of rural Venezuela (Apure and regions thereabouts). I won’t come with you, unfortunately, but I can tell you where the revolutionary action is.

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  7. I’m reading reports of Hugo Chavez boasting about his win. It sounds to me like a serial killer boasting how the police will never catch him!

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