After weeks of imperialist threats and opposition violence, the elections for the Constituent Assembly (ANC) in Venezuela took place on July 30th. The result was a massive turnout of over 8 million voters, around 41% of the electorate, which gave chavismo a much-needed shot in the arm. The western media reacted by trying to dispute the number and sticking even closer to the narrative being pushed by the opposition and the US State Department. With the opposition scrambling and US authorities bringing more sanctions and threats, it is now chavismo that has the political initiative. The Constituent Assembly will not solve everything by itself, but it is a tremendous opportunity to push the Bolivarian Revolution forward.
Part 2 - What’s in a number?
The ineffable Guardian, which went into propaganda overdrive in recent days, simply let the US State Department set the tone to describe Sunday’s events in Venezuela. Perhaps still in denial, the Guardian had yet to report the total number of votes on Monday morning. A second piece that revealed the 8M votes surrounded by all the supposed controversy also shed some light on the disputed predictions and the “well respected independent analysis”:
“An exit poll based on surveys from 110 voting centers [note: out of a total of 12.000] by New York investment bank Torino Capital and a Venezuela public opinion company estimated that 3.6 million people voted…”
It would be interesting to know the sample size, the margin of error, which voting centres were used and which baseline is being compared against. Exit polls work by comparing against exit polls from a previous election, or a model based on previous elections. Voters are interviewed during a certain period of time, and numbers are compared to similar ones in a previous election during the same time to predict turnout (and also how the vote might swing, which is not relevant in this case). Since exit polling has been forbidden in the past in Venezuela, it really makes us wonder how these predictions are made.
We also need to point out that in this case not all voting centres are created equal. Given that the opposition flat-out refused to participate, turnout will have been much more suppressed in the opposition strongholds, and even more so in the vicinity of violent opposition barricades. An oversampling of these would inevitably skewer the prediction, which is why the data needs to be scrutinised and compared to the official results if it is to be taken seriously. The opposition’s long track record of crying fraud and presenting fabricated evidence (or none at all) also makes these claims very hard to believe.
In any case, we expect the media to uncritically parrot the opposition “prediction” with the same bias that they uncritically parrot the 7.6M total for the opposition’s consultation.
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