The Capriles event yesterday in Caracas forces us to revise our assumptions for the result next Sunday. Let's go with the hard data we have.
Yesterday's march and rally in Caracas was the biggest one ever in Caracas history. I dare anyone to post a video of the Bolivar Avenue as packed as it was yesterday, as seen in the video at the end of the post. Never mind my own pictures of those or others available everywhere. You need to understand that what you see in the video is roughly a hundred K folks, and that you had still a many marching from Plaza Venezuela and before. At any given time, for at least a couple of hours, there were 300K people in the streets plus all those that came and went. A million did march at least a few blocks? More? Even Chavez never managed such a march in his best years. And certainly not for free as Capriles did, because let's not forget that the opposition is penniless, cannot hire buses besides those needed to transport organizers for the march. People that showed up last Sunday were people that wanted to be there. Period. No pay, no booze, no nothing: they came because they are sick and tired, really sick and tired of the regime of abuse. Wait for next Thursday to start counting the buses clogging Caracas streets with public workers forced to attend from outside Caracas Maduro's last stand.....
Certainly this does not mean Capriles has won. He bested Chavez in Caracas last October and yet Chavez won. The only thing we can safely conclude from yesterday is that the opposition is motivated and that Capriles is all but certain to recover his October number. Not only the volume of the participation in Caracas or anywhere Capriles shows up these days is bigger than last year, with LESS means, but the enthusiasm is palpably higher at every rally or march or gathering. Opposition abstention will not be very high, if at all. Thus now I confirm that what I wrote on March 28 has gone from optimism to certainty: Capriles will get no less than 6.6 million votes. Any increase in opposition abstention will be compensated by chavismo cross over (though the absence of real exit poll may never tell us how much is that cross over).
The next fact is that Maduro as a campaigner has proven to be a disaster, gaining ridicule in the middle of an economic crisis, a deadly combination for any politician in a normal country. The lone thing that Maduro can count on is Chavez link, and the blackmail of Mision beneficiaries and public employees. Maduro is not going to get more votes than Chavez. Period. It will not happen.
If this does not convince you yet, let me remind the electoral blunders of the regime. The first one was the obvious pattern of lies around Chavez sickness and death. The second one was having two devaluations in a row. The third one is that with an inflation that summed around 10% since Maduro took charge in December the regime has done nothing to soften the blow, not even a raise in the minimal wage. Regardless of his personal flaws, or Chavez post-mortem boost, these have a political cost.
The two true questions are thus:
How many chavistas will abstain?
How many chavistas will dare to cross the line and vote for Capriles?
As far as I am concerned there are no more questions to define the result of next Sunday 14.
Again, if you doubt me look at how partial to the regime the CNE has dared to show itself this time around. Look at the violent attacks, including the one tonight against defenseless protesting students attacked by throngs of fascists on motor bikes. Listen to the tone and choice of words of the ones in charge of the Maduro campaign: these are not the actions of a regime sure of its victory. This is a regime that is contemplating with utter amazement what they could not even conceive two months ago, that the massive state abuse this time around may not be enough. Note: winning is not all for such a type of regime: they also need a "margin of victory" large enough.
Now I write that Maduro is not going to get more than 7.2 million votes.
There is thus the matter of whether Capriles can gain an extra 600K, or Maduro lose an extra 300K.
Now the best for Maduro is 7.2 to 6.6, and the best for Capriles is 7.2 to 6.9. Recent trends seem to be pointing to a 7.2 to 6.9 result but I doubt it will be better than that. Or rather, since we cannot predict abstention at this point though we can be sure it will be higher than in October, Maduro cannot expect to win by more than half a million votes with an abstention no more than 25% while Capriles can hope to win by half a million if the abstention reaches 30%.....Note: this is not a prediction; after my last burn in October even my better guess for December does not give me the confidence to predict a Capriles victory just yet.
Onto something else.
When I see what a lousy job Maduro is doing I am wondering if indeed Chavez did not mean it to end this way, through a defeat. After all, the best way for Chavez to secure his religion would be for him Maduro/chavismo to lose the election so that all the shit hits finally the fan under Capriles. A victory of Maduro would force him either to face the music and become deeply unpopular, dragging down Chavez with him: or even worse, push Maduro toward massive repression so that Chavez and chavismo descend outright into widely acknowledged fascist rule. Chavez was reckless and egomaniacal enough to have entertained that thought, the more so when he started seeing how his followers were already position themselves for his succession.......