Polling and the Ballot In Venezuela Mark Weisbrot November 10, 2006
Recall Election • National referendum on whether to recall President Chavez, held in Venezuela on August 15, 2004
Results • Results, according to the National Electoral Council: 58.3-41.4% reconfirming Chavez. • Carter Center and the Organization of American States observers confirmed that election was free and fair, and without evidence of fraud
Pre-Election Reporting • Pre-election news reports said results were “too close to call”
How likely is it that a random sample of the electorate polled before the election would find the result “too close to call”?
The Penn, Schoen, and Berland Exit Poll • The Venezuelan opposition calls election fraudulent and cites an exit poll conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Inc. • Sample: 20,382 voters • margin of error: <1% • Results: 59% favor recall, 41% against
The probability of the Penn, Schoen, and Berland exit poll getting its result from sampling error is far less than: 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Penn, Schoen, and Berland’s Response: • The firm has maintained that their exit poll was correct and that the actual election results were fraudulent
Use of the False Exit Poll • Sumate “deliberately distributed this erroneous [Penn, Schoen, and Berland] exit poll data in order to build up, not only the expectation of victory, but also to influence the people still standing in line” -- Jimmy Carter (National Catholic Reporter, 9/03/04)
Penn, Schoen and Berland Still Polling in Venezuela Recent P, S & B poll shows Chavez ahead 50-37, Financial Times reports. “However, the pollsters concluded that Mr. Chavez’s real support level was likely to be much lower because an important number of potential voters are fearful of criticising him.” – Financial Times, 9/29/06 Note: the rest of the international media ignored this recent poll.
Polling Firms Most Often Cited by the Media, Not Described as Partisan • Datanalisis • “He [President Chavez] has to be killed,” he said, using his finger to stab the table in his office far above this capital's filthy streets. “He has to be killed.” • – Jose Antonio Gil Yepes, President of Datanalisis • Los Angeles Times, “Opposition Wishing for Ultimate End to Chavez”, July 7, 2002
Polling Firms Most Often Cited by the Media, Not Described as Partisan (2) AKSA (Alfredo Keller SA) After the coup and in the midst of the oil strike to topple the Venezuelan government (December 2002), describing the conflict as “a fight to the death for power between two counter-posed ideological forces: an authoritarian socialism with a spirit of revenge against a democracy that is open to the market.” -- Alfredo Keller, President of AKSA letter to Petroleum World (12/17/02)
Conclusion • Polling in Venezuela has seen serious abuses, including possible falsification of results • Media has not always exercised due diligence in scrutinizing and reporting on polls • Good to look at pollsters’ past performance and methodology