"Are the Polls Credible in Venezuela? Vote NO"

Currently in Venezuela a variety of information is being released by national and international polling groups in an attempt to predict the results of the Referendum coming up in two short weeks.  Unfortunately, the impartiality of these polling groups has proved to be virtually non-existent. It has become a routine practice of the opposition to blatantly report information from groups of their choice that have strong interests in the removal of Chávez from power.  These “facts” are then being distributed to press throughout the world.   An example of this is a poll that was requested and funded, according to a Reuters wire,  by the private television station network Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which openly opposes the government.  This poll, which was published on the website Petroleumworld.com in an article entitled “Chávez fears losing the RR”, was conducted by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research.  Its June study states that the intention of the NO vote has been improving, as an impact of the “missions”, to the point of overcoming the YES vote 49 % NO 44 %. The study shows that the YES is well ahead in Sectors A, B, C and D; the NO is ahead 59 % with the YES vote 38 % in E.  It is crucial to keep in mind that those polled in sector E come from the poor neighborhoods of Caracas in which the people are heavily in favor of  Chávez.

Interestingly, the conclusion that the YES vote is ahead in the other sectors the comes from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research which is a firm from Washington used by the Democratic Party which is now in Venezuela working on behalf of the opposition.  The Greenberg group in addition acknowledges conducting the polls at the request of opposition groups by stating on its web site that they have "helped the opposition movement build domestic and international support for the referendum through a series of strategic surveys and focus groups".  Therefore, it is impossible that the information released has any basis in neutrality.

Typically it is crucial to have polling funded by independent groups, rather than one side or another.  However in Venezuela this has not been the case.   It is all too common to have an unrepresentative sample polled simply for a desired result.  

In contrast, with the results released by Greenberg, another June poll by Venezuelan firm DATOS, gave Chávez 51% of support for the recall referendum, against 39% who would vote against him, according to the state press agency Venpres which quoted a source linked to the opposition. DATOS is believed to be friendly towards the opposition. The results of the poll, which was requested by the opposition, were not released to the public.  These facts of Chávez succeeding in the polls not being released displays the opposition’s attempts to hide his potential success.

The vast difference in results discovered by different polling groups can be seen when these numbers are contrasted with those realeased by Datanálisis.  Datanálisis, in its June Report gives YES 57 % and NO 43 % while it warned that Chávez had been improving the level of response towards his mandate. It concluded that the opposition had greater possibilities of winning the recall. The Datanálisis numbers were highly publicized by the Venezuelan mainstream media, most of which openly opposes the government.  In addition, their main clients are those in favor of the opposition.    

Once the opposition realized that there was conflicting information in the polls, most notably the lead by Chávez, Venezuelanalysis.com reported that an emergency meeting was called to be held at the headquarters of the main stream media itself, Globovision TV.  Those present included representatives of all mainstream commercial TV stations, Globovisión, RCTV, Televen, Venevision, and CMT.  It is important to note that these stations control all of the information being released on the mainstream media outlets.  While this may not have an affect on the barrio dwellers of Venezuela, since they have already grown to distrust the commercial media, this information can still have repercussions for those international recipients.

A potentially dangerous consequence of publishing polls that show Chavez losing the referendum in international press is if foreign countries expect him to lose, when he wins, the opposition will have the opportunity to claim that the entire electoral process was fradulent.  This means even if Chavez wins the referendum vote, the opposition will have a way to discredit the results.  As the date of the vote, August 15th  grows closer and Chavez´s success increases in the polls, the opposition will look for ways to win at all costs.  

In the end, the results of these published polls with a grain of salt.  Since there is so much going on inconjunction between the opposition, the mainstream media stations and the polling groups, it is difficult to take anything reported as a public poll figure very seriously.  However, at the same time it could be considered worthwhile to take note of the contradictions in the polls and if Chávez continues to be presented as losing the referendum it could be because the international community is actually bracing themselves for his victory and their subsequent action to find a way to take over regardless.  

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About Amber Howard