A lot of people argue that these protests are too early. That the barrios are not participating. That the people still support the Government widely and many other such arguments. While there is evidence to counteract each of these claims, I think they try to oversimplify the problem. In the end, the “barrios” are not where the opposition is weak, it is in the very rural states, where the people have a very high dependence on the Government. These are the true Chavista strongholds, where the media is fully dominated by the Government and the opposition gets less than 40% of the vote in any given election. In the barrios of the big cities, the 2013 Presidential elections tended to be closer, with the opposition scoring wins in many.
At the same time, anyone that has talked to the students in these protests, can see that they come from all over the place. In fact, in my conversations in Plaza Altamira when I was there three weeks ago, I found a very large fraction (I would say one out of every two) of the students came from poor neighborhoods.
This, of course, goes against logic: Maduro barely squeaked by a year ago (if he did, which I am still not sure happened) and since he took over, inflation has doubled and scarcity has gone up by almost a factor of three (Datanalisis says it is at 47.7%). I just don’t think people are that insensitive to their problems.
And yes, Maduro did recover for the regional elections thanks to the Caracazo, but conditions have worsened significantly since.
But we (and the Government!) all should take notice of the latest poll by Datos, a well respected polling firm, a copy of which someone sent me and which shows that the Government’s approval, popularity and acceptance has deteriorated dramatically. In fact, I would even say it has deteriorated more than I expected and in some aspects, the result surprise me.
Let’s start with the basics. According to the poll, 43.7% consider themselves to be opposition, while only 27.1% consider themselves to be pro-Government. In the lowest strata of the population, Class E, 36.4% of the people see themselves as pro-opposition, while it is only 32.5% who consider themselves to be pro-Government. (The same number is 62.4% and 18.2% in classes A,B and C). So much for the opposition not resonating or penetrating in the poorer strata of the population.
When people are asked if they things as being fine or not, basically the hard core pro-Government 27.2% of those asked, say things are fine (Define as being well, or more or less well), while 72% think hings are going bad or not very well.
Enough to make any Government nervous…
But where things really get surprising in my opinion, is on questions that should make Maduro and his cronies truly nervous. Like 46.4% of the people think Venezuela is a Dictatorship, while only 42.5% think it is a democracy, for example.
Or that 50.4% think Maduro is doing a negative job, 23.6% think it is positive and 21.3% think it is neither positive nor negative.
And if this were not enough to make any Government official very nervous, 66.1% of the people think dollar scarcity is the Government’s fault, while only 3.1% of those polled think it is the private sectors fault. And 53% of the people think scarcity is Maduro’s fault, while only 14.4% think it is the private sector’s fault. And 51% blame the Government for inflation, while only 8.6% thinking it is the private sector’s fault. Amazingly, despite these numbers, 46.5% still think the Government can solve the country’s problems, while 47.1%, don’t think so.
Finally, 61% of those polled think that the Government’s reactions to the protests has been disproportionate and a mistake, while only 29.5%think it has been correct or adequate. Moreover, when it comes to how many people think the Government has to rectify its policies, 87% of those polled think they have to.
To me, these numbers say the Government is in real trouble. They show that Chavismo sin Chávez is a flimsy proposition. If these were the numbers up to March 2nd. , I suspect they are much worse now and what the Government has been doing goes counter to what those polled suggest. Polls are inaccurate, but I saw Datos’ polls before the Caracazo and afterwards and I can assure you they gauged well what happened.
If I were the Maduro Government, this poll would make me very nervous indeed!