Chavez Maintains Lead Over Rival in Datanalisis Poll

(Corrects growth figure in seventh paragraph.)

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has maintained his lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in the most recent polls by Datanalisis, according to a New York-based analyst with access to the unpublished survey results.

Chavez had 42.6 percent and Capriles 28.8 percent in a Datanalisis telephone survey of 700 people taken June 12-15 that had a margin of error of 3.7 percent, according to the analyst, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the results.

In a poll of 1,300 people taken May 21-29 by Caracas-based Datanalisis, Chavez had 43.6 percent and Capriles 27.7 percent, the analyst said. The May survey had a margin of error of 2.7 percent. The changes in support for the two candidates between the May and June polls weren’t statistically significant.

Capriles registered as the opposition candidate on June 10 as tens of thousands of his supporters lined his 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) route to the national electoral council.

Chavez, who is battling an unspecified form of cancer, registered a day later with a similar mass demonstration. The self-declared socialist has stepped up his public appearances in the past week following prolonged absences that fueled speculation he may not be fit enough to contest the vote.

Datanalisis President Luis Vicente Leon declined to comment because the poll is private.

Housing Boom

Venezuela’s economy expanded 5.6 percent in the first quarter, the fastest pace since 2008, as record oil revenue allowed Chavez to finance a boom in housing construction. While Capriles has run an effective campaign that promised not to dismantle Chavez’s popular social programs, high oil prices have allowed Chavez to “buy popularity,” said Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

“In his own way, Chavez’s campaign has been as brilliant as Capriles’s,” Birns said in a telephone interview. “Both of them have thought up their game plan and executed it pretty faultlessly.”

In a Datanalisis survey taken in April, the last one that it has officially released, Chavez won 43 percent of preferences, compared with 26 percent for Capriles.

With almost a quarter of voters undecided, the polls reflect a level of dissatisfaction with Chavez on which Capriles hasn’t been able to capitalize, Birns said.

“There are many people who are disaffected from Chavez,” Birns said. “But they are not prepared yet to make a firm commitment to Capriles.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at

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