Chavez Maintains Lead Over Rival in June Datanalisis Poll

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has maintained his lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in the most recent polls by Datanalisis.

Chavez had 42.6 percent and Capriles 28.8 percent in a Datanalisis telephone survey of 702 people taken June 12-15 that had a margin of error of 3.7 percent, according to an e-mailed copy of the survey. The poll found 28.6 percent of voters were undecided.

In a poll of 1,300 people taken May 21-29 by Datanalisis, Chavez had 43.6 percent and Capriles 27.7 percent. 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 joined him in a 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) march through Caracas 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 confirmed the polls while declining to comment because they are 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 promises 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 its 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, Chavez won 43 percent of preferences, compared with 26 percent for Capriles.

With more than 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 cdevereux3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net