Polling battle begins

Por Venezuela Real - 30 de Septiembre, 2006, 10:08, Categoría: Historia Oficial

Venezuela Information Office
Internet
29 de Septiembre de 2006

While President Chavez was delivering his speech before the United Nations last week, polling firms in Venezuela were publicizing their latest findings. Unfortunately, the results were highly contradictory.

The poll results, detailed below, reflect Venezuela"s polarized political discourse in general, and follow a pattern we saw before the recall referendum in which individual polling firms artificially inflated support for the opposition movements and attempted to discredit the referendum"s results.

Poll #1: Penn, Schoen & Berland

Released on September 22, results from a Penn, Schoen & Berland poll show Chavez opponent Manuel Rosales surging in the polls, rising more than 25 percentage points in just a matter of weeks. Unlikely? Of course, but it"s Penn & Schoen, the company responsible for the phony exit polling during the 2004 recall referendum that nearly set the country into chaos. Among other things, Penn & Schoen"s 2004 polls:

* Were conducted not by independent pollsters, but by hard-core opposition activists from the organization Sumate;
* Were illegally released hours before polls closed in a move described by former President Jimmy Carter as an attempt "to build up, not only the expectation of victory, but also to influence the people still standing in line;" and
* Were found by a Washington think tank to be almost certainly manipulated intentionally. In fact, the independent analysis described the odds that Penn & Schoen got the numbers wrong by mistake as "less than one in 10 to the 490th power." To put this into context, these are similar odds to one person winning the lottery every week for an entire year.

Poll #2: Hinterlaces

Hinterlaces had inoculated itself from charges of bias earlier this summer, when its previous poll results showed Chavez leading Rosales 55% to 7%. But results released last week show Rosales" popularity climbing dramatically to 30%, while Chavez"s support suspiciously falls below the 50% mark.
Like Penn & Schoen, the Hinterlaces team has close ties to the opposition. While in its most recent round of polling, the firm has refused to disclose its funding and methodology, in the past it has been underwritten by a consortium of Venezuelan business interests. Earlier this year Hinterlaces entered into a partnership with the hard-core opposition tabloid "Descifrado en la Calle" to publicize their results in opposition circles.

More Accurate Polling

In contrast, Venezuela"s largest independent polling firm, Datanalisis, showed the President"s popularity holding steady at 58% while Rosales support comes in at 17%. This is a 30 point spread, compared with the 13 to 18 point spread presented by opposition pollsters.
A recent Reuters article argues that whether the opposition polls are accurate or not, they will likely help Rosales gain momentum. "[M]any voters who feel a vote for Rosales is a waste may turn to him if they start to think the polls show he can win, according to political analysts," they write. l
With the presidential elections just two months away, it is important that Venezuela watchers know where the numbers are coming from. Please keep an eye on your local media and contact them when they report poll numbers from disreputable polling sources.






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