43 thoughts on “How big was abstention?

  1. Just as a side note. The way I do this is to only count votes that are going towards the biggest political forces. That is GPP and MUD. I do not count votes that are ‘null’ and do not count votes that go towards random guys.

    • Wow. I’m impressed, Rodrigo. Great job.

      The only elections missing are 2004 regionals and 2005 parliamentary, where abstention was higher (and in the case of the latter, it went to the roof).

      • I agree that the 2004 regional is important because it resembles so much this regional elections coming after a big demoralizing defeat that left many people without any desire to vote again so soon. At that time it was concluded by many analysts that the big abstention was due to the opposition calling fraud without any proof. But this similar result, to me, proves that that wasn’t such an important factor if anything it was minor. The important factor was the defeat after such high expectations.

        Because of the belief that denouncing the CNE puts off opposition voters the MUD has accepted in silence many abuses by the CNE.

  2. Um, I respectfully disagree… abstention for this election falls in line with similar electoral processes of the past. The whole abstention hulaballoo is just a weak defense mechanism for those who feel the need to blame 16D on something, anything else, instead of acknowledging the strategic and tactica failures of our party leaders. This is from ORC consultores:
    “Desde 1989, año en que comenzaron los procesos regionales para elegir gobernadores en nuestro país, el comportamiento electoral fue el siguiente en términos de abstención: 1989= 54%; 1992= 50,72%; 1995= 53,85%, 1998= 47,56%; 2000= 43,55%; 2004= 54,6%; 2008= 35,6% (promedio 48,5%) y el pasado domingo 16 fue de 46,06%. Como pueden observar, la participación tiene un comportamiento muy similar en este tipo de comicios.”
    The full article is here:

    http://orcconsultores.com/oswram/analisis-elecciones-regionales-2012-en-venezuela/

    • Eduarte,
      Prior 1983 electoral processes here saw massive turnouts. From 1983 forward all electoral processes saw participation rates as those you have outlined. On the Chavez era, turnout has increased by a ton, or back to the pre Lusinchi days. If you the same analysis for parliament you will see how turnout decreased and then increased again.

      Abstention is not an excuse. Abstention is the consequence of many factors that led voters, particularly oppo voters, to not go to the polling stations.

    • I agree in that I’m not sure abstention made us lose nationwide. The only two states where we lost by a small margin were Zulia (where abstention was 38%, not big at all) and Bolivar where we only lost by 2%(59% abstention). I think the biggest abstention comes from traditional chavista states where people in the opposition had no incentive to vote (Trujillo, Guarico, Vargas). Dear fellow opositores: Get off that cloud! we didn’t lose because of abstention.

      • Yes, el Chigüire Bipolar has an eye for the obvious no one can equal… They are so lame they should be writing for Venevisión…

    • Thinking more about this graph I find it remarkable how participation for the opposition just keep slowly growing, not jumping up or down with abstention, regardless of the type of electoral process: presidential, regional, parliamentary or referenda. It shows tremendous discipline and commitment from the opposition voters, specially compared to the fickleness of the chavista voters.

      Within that context, Borges’ comment doesn’t seem so out of touch as it may initially have seem. It was not out of place for him to keep expecting the same level of commitment and discipline from the voters.

      Unfortunately, expectations unrealistically high brought about big disappointment and demoralized the people.

      Of course, the precedent of the regional elections of 2004 should have been a warning sign of what was coming and should have prompted them to reinforce the message motivating the people to keep voting despite the setbacks.

  3. As a side note, I think is not the same thing measuring abstention for presidential elections and regional elections. It’s like trying to measure temperature and humidity, they are related but they are not the same thing.

    Regional elections have always shown a bigger rate of abstention than presidential or national elections. Maybe for the next presidential elections, we will see abstention to drop again, when the fate of the country hangs in balance, one more time.

    • Maybe. The key point is the trend. How oppo vote was steadily becoming a larger chunk of the pie. But on 16D we saw a big drop. If you see the chart, for the last 6 years oppo vote was immune to abstention.While chavista vote was highly correlated with abstention.

      • Ok I see your point. Thanks for clear that up. It’s certainly worrisome watching this big drop for the opposition land.

      • That correlation is mere coincidence. The why’s in the datatypes. You can’t just compare the abstention datum to the Chavez supporters datum since the former is made up of people with all political opinions. Descriptive statistics need mutually comparable data in order to produce a meaningful chart. You can’t treat voters as if they were flocks and can’t assume referenda and regional elections are inherently equal. For instance, road traffic data on Fridays and Sundays; it’s obvious there’s no comparison.

        Perhaps if you’d taken CO3321 you’d know better ;)

        • The correlation is a Coincidence? The correlation either exists or it doesn’t, you can not conclude that its coincidental or that it has a cause, all you can say is that there is a correlation and then speculate of what it means.

          There is no problem in correlating abstention with chavista votes. A correlation doesn’t need to be made of similar variables you can correlate any variable with any other variable, for instance: population with temperature, or smoking habits with lung cancer incidence. To correlate is not the same as to compare.

          It’s true that different types of elections behave differently but you can very well compare overall chavista behaviour with opposition behaviour and observe how they correlate or not against abstention.

        • Gabriel,

          One can do statistical tests on any data set available. That includes correlations. I do think in Venezuela, with this pseudo-bipartisan environment, with very emotional voters, the votes are more like a flock than you would like to think.

          As comparing Friday’s to Sunday’s traffic, that depends on what insights are you trying to get.

          Like you said, the correlation may be a big coincidence, but the data is correlated nonetheless.

  4. The 16th D saw an understandably demoralized opposition, convinced of the CNE’s knavery.This fear, now magnified by the Bolivar State episode and in the wake of the 7-O and the obscene shennanigins starting with the parachute candidacies and truckloads of white goods, can hardly be said to be groundless. How come that in this page on abstention, there’s been no mention of the utter lack of confidence in the referee. It may be a ‘well-known fact’ but it is central to many folks’ having opted to stay at home instead pf vote, more so in this latest round than in priors owing to the proximity to October’s sorry upshot and the other negative factors mentioned above. lots of people simply don’t think it’s worth the candle. Why isn’t that glarin g fcat figuring more in abstention-related comment?

    • Even if the referee is crooked, what does anyone lose by voting? Does anyone think that if opposition voter levels had stayed near O-7 quantities, the referee would have nullified everything?

    • I believe that those that use the CNE corruption as an excuse to not vote are simply rationalizing, and the truth is they don’t want to vote because they feel there is no way to win. If they had a minimum of hope that there is a chance to win they would vote even with the exact same CNE they denounce. Proof is they voted on Oct 7th. Thus they thought it was possible to win. The defeat demoralized them and they don’t want to get their hopes up again and prefer not to vote. Of course politically defeatism is the worst attitude and it should be combated by the candidates.

      An interesting fact is that chavistas abstained almost as much as opposition people. There were 34% less chavista votes in this election compared to Oct 7th, versus 36% less opposition votes, So roughly 1 out of every 3 chavistas that voted on Oct 7th abstained in Dec 16 and just about a little more abstained for the opposition.

      So defeatism is not the only reason people abstained. Other reasons could be:
      – triumphalism (for the chavistas)
      – a less effective machinery
      – indifference for regional elections
      – rejection of both candidates

      What percentage for each? I wish there was some way to know.

  5. According to Datanalisis, less than a quarter of Venezuelans self-identify as opposition (ie their base) and more than one-third as Chavistas. In the historical elections on the graph the opposition had steadily been attracting a greater share of non-aligned voters, at least up until 16D. Seems that in this election both sides turned out their base and nothing more. In fact, one could argue that the PSUV saw turnout even below the level of their historical base in this election. Since their base is bigger that was still plenty to almost run the table — except where it really mattered (Miranda). Still, I’m not sure what all this talk about the effectiveness of the Chavez machine is all about.

  6. I would like to share this spreadsheet with a chart comparing the Oct 7th turnout vs Dec 16th state by state. There you can see how the vote dropped in every state and for each side.

    https://www.box.com/s/24ndg1v8c21sn2134yvw

    Here are some observations:
    – Liborio Guarulla was the best opposition candidate obtaining 36.5% of the electorate and pulling off the amazing feat of getting more votes than Capriles did in Amazonas during the presidential election.

    – After Guarulla the best opposition candidates were Capriles & Falcon tied at 29.3% of their respective electorate.

    – It’s clear that Reyes Reyes was a much worse candidate than Jaua. Reyes lost 40% of the presidential votes compared to 30% by Jaua. Falcon lost 25% & Capriles 24%.

    – Pablo Perez was the third best candidate with 29% of the electorate and losing only 18% of the votes obtained during the presidentials. Unfortunately even though Arias lost 22% of presidential votes, the opposition in Zulia had underperformed during the presidentials, obtaining only 36.4% of the electorate compared to 39.5% of Miranda

    – The best chavista candidate was Lizeta Hernandez of Delta Amacuro with 37% of the electorate
    – Rangel Silva of Trujillo was the second best chavista candidate with 36%
    – Francisco Rangel of Bolivar was the worst chavista candidate with 18%

    • From a different point of view, the best chavista candidate was Vielma Mora in Tachira who lost only 9% of the presidential votes while the opposition lost 42%.
      – Francisco Rangel in Bolivar is still the worst chavista candidate by losing 55% of presidential votes.
      – For reference the worst opposition candidate is Jose Hernandez of Trujillo who lost a whooping 73% of the oppo votes in the presidentials.

      – Under this perspective after Guarulla (who somehow gained 3%), the second best opposition candidate was Pablo Perez who lost only 18% of the Oct 7th opposition votes in Zulia.

  7. The first thing I read from this graphic is that only when abstention peaks high enough, the Opposition is able to win. That however is not the case in last Sunday’s elections. It seems to me that this last abstention rate hit both sides somewhat equally.

    The historical trend points out that only a surge in abstention has made possible the two victories the Opposition has ever been able to pull out – and that is presumably due to the fact that the Opposition turnout in those two elections was high, whereas the Government’s wasn’t, which is in line with that comment on the “Opposition being inmune to abstention” that Rodrigo made. 16D breaks that trend though.

    I fundamentally agree with eduarte’s comment that “the whole abstention hulaballoo is just a weak defense mechanism for those who feel the need to blame 16D on something” – yet there might be something else we are overlooking in the Opposition’s vote (or lack thereof). At this point we shouldn’t be fighting to get our own people out to vote.

  8. Thank your lucky stars that voters did not willfully VOID their votes, and just avoided the ballot box like the plague. People go to voting stations with clear CHOICES in mind. And please stop telling us about the ignorance of the Venezuelan people. The common man and woman are head over shoulders clear in their INSIGHTS about the current bunch of politicians, so that the POINTY heads who keep on writing ad nauseum about how they are smart, elitesque and above the hoi polloi should shrink into their shells, and let the coming events take over. End of Rant.

  9. The people may have an uncluttered view of the candidates; it would be odd at this late stage if they didn’t. The subsequent reaction – to vote for what is manifestly not in their best interest – is the issue. Immediately, the factors “long-term interest”, “mid-term interest” and “just around the corner interest” arise and the same-old, same-old discussion ensues.

    As yet, I haven’t seen anyone writing how they are smart, or elitesque (and if they were, it’s the last thing they’d actually write, surely?); and, by the way, was the phrase, “above ‘the hoi polloi'” a supremely subtle declaration of proletarian solidarity inasfar as “hoi polloi” -“the masses”, really didna oughta have a ‘the’ before it – unless the writer seeks to reveal his being numbered among the masses and therefore, in solidarity incoporates his ‘deliberate mistake’ to underline that stance?.

    Lastly, the exhortation to “let the coming events take over” went right past me; what does it actually mean?

    • “let the coming events take over” went right past me; what does it actually mean?

      wholesale loss of political clout

  10. Definitively, the title of this post is misleading.
    The big story here is not how big the abstention was. What’s remarkable in this graph is how solid and committed was the voting of the opposition since 2006. Election after election always steadily growing, modestly but growing, regardless of what kind of election it was. Abstention was an exclusively chavista phenomenon. Sadly the trend was broken on 16D. No doubt a mismanagement of expectations.

    It’s also notable how chavismo has this big mass of fickle but easily mobilized voters whenever needed.

    • A disciplined, unwavering opposition that went from 27% (vs 46% chavismo) of the electorate in 2006 all the way up to 35% (vs 43% ch.) in October and back down to 22% in just two months!!!! (vs 28% ch.)

        • Maybe what we need is a graph that focuses solely on the opposition participation. Obviating the chavismo & the abstention (actually the abstention could be put just as a number as part of the category). I think people do not realize the amazing behaviour of the opposition this past 6 years. I personally had no idea, I used to believe they were fickle voting sometimes abstaining others.

          • Not at all. I noticed this upward trend with 7-O and I was actually amazed of the results. Chavistas know this very well. So well that their main efforts on 7-O were on mobilization. And they went all out. Using army vehicles, buses, PDVSA vehicles and money, motorcyclist, everything. When I saw the planning they were doing, the resources they were allocating I knew that we were in trouble. I raised my voiced in a couple of places but there wasn’t much to be done then. At 6 pm on 7-O after hearing that only 20% of voters didn’t vote I knew that was it.

            In Petare, where I served as a witness, I saw at 4 pm how hundreds of motorcyclist departed from Petare’s circle up to the hills and bringing people to the polls. You have no idea the magnitude of this.

            I also knew that chavistas didn’t have the resources to pull it again on 16-D. But it was impossible to get people motivated on the oppo camp.

            In fact, motivation still is challenging. There you have PSUV leadership discrediting MUD directive. They are puppeting the oppo masses and succeeding very well. On the other hand the oppo leadership perhaps with the exception of MCM is looking for someone to blame instead of acknowledging that they made mistakes, that corrective actions have been taken and that we need to regroup and prepare.

            But fellas like Julio Borges are so freaking arrogant that they do exactly the opposite. Many of the most important and intelligent people from the MUD were sacked because the political leaders blamed them for their own failures. The ones sacked of course were not the politicians, but the people that actually know about planning, organization and resource planning. Leaving a bunch of useless morons.

            Anyway… I still believe that guys like Ramon Guillermo Aveledo are doing an amazing work. I still believe that MCM will be a great politician mainly because she is honest. I wish she wouldn’t be so quick on the trigger or watch her selection of words more carefully as to not alienate.

        • As a corollary of the amazing behavior of the opposition it made me realize that the break of the trend in 16D with the big abstention was the result of something completely different than what most people think. There have been “explanations” for why people didn’t vote on 16D:
          – Disgust with the candidate
          – To punish the MUD
          – Because the CNE is corrupt
          – Because of the undue advantage and abuse of the chavismo
          – Because Capriles is Chavez light
          – etc

          But all those are nothing more than rationalizations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalization_(making_excuses)

          Excuses that hide the real reason they didn’t vote: they were depressed, demoralized and felt defeated. The 7O defeat was too painful and they didn’t want to go through the same process again.

          The importance of this is that we can argue with people who abstained all day long and would never convince them because it’s not an intellectual reason but an emotional one that made them abstain. What they need is a pep talk to lift their spirits up and have them believe that it is possible to win again and is worthwhile to vote just like they did for 6 years.

        • Of course the other conclusion is that the opposition has a low ceiling: 35.3% (my number is slightly different than yours because I included 66k votes for Reina Sequera into Capriles tally) while chavismo ceiling is 43.3% when they pull all their resources.

          Of course some places are better than others. Opposition should really get their game together for the Mayoral elections, focusing in motivating people to go out and vote breaking off that depression and negativity.

          BTW Rodrigo can you publish your spreadsheet? I want to play with variations of the graph.

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