There are polls and there are polls in Venezuela, with only the stupid and/or biased swallowing the more extreme numbers presented by either the Chávez-friendly pollsters or the Capriles-friendly equivalents. To be honest none of them really shape up as totally trustworthy houses, but perhaps the closest there is to reasonable is Datanálisis, run by anti-Chávista Luis Vicente León but noted for trying to keep personal preferences out of things.
Perhaps that’s why Datanálisis lands the juicy private survey contracts from overseas, as an unnamed foreign client recently got Datanálisis to take the election pulse and, as these things do, the numbers have leaked out. This chart shows the difference between the last Datanálisis poll and the one reported on August 20th:
The headline story is that Chávez still leads and by a comfortable margin, but Henrique Capriles has closed the gap somewhat. However, we note that the undecideds have dropped and it’s interesting that most of the ones that have made up their minds seem to be moving to the opposition candidate.
Two comments: Firstly, Capriles has managed to cut the gap a bit but time is now against him and the Chávez hardcore support means that the incumbent is unlikely to lose percentage support from now. If the opposition has a chance, it will be about convincing those undecided voters to come over en masse and as that’s an unlikely scenario, it means that Hugo Chávez is still the hot favourite to win this vote. Secondly Datanálisis is due to report one more poll result, which will be in the last part of September and close to the day of the big vote, October 7th. This pollster is about the best in Venezuela but that’s more “best of a bad lot” than “best”, with its owner a clear anti-Chávista. If León is going to massage a poll it’ll be then, at the business end of the campaign.