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BofA Sees Chavez Re-Election Even as Lead in Polls Narrows

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is on track to beat Henrique Capriles Radonski in the Oct. 7 election even as the incumbent’s lead shows signs of narrowing, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said, citing polls conducted by other companies.

Chavez’s lead over Capriles narrowed to 10 percentage points from 15 percentage points in the latest Datanalisis survey taken between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, bank economist Francisco Rodriguez wrote in a report e-mailed to investors today. He would have won 56.3 percent of the vote and Capriles 43.7 percent had the election been held this month, Rodriguez said basing his estimates on seven surveys conducted in late August and early September by polling companies including Consultores 30.11 and Hinterlaces.

“This rate of decline appears insufficient to close the remaining gap between the candidates by election day,” Rodriguez wrote. “These results suggest the most likely scenario would be a Chavez re-election, with a high likelihood of a double-digit advantage.”

Chavez, who is seeking to extend nearly 14 years in power with another six-year term, is facing his closest electoral fight yet after his opponents unified behind a single candidate. Chavez’s lead in the polls has fallen by 3.3 percentage points from August and 9.8 percentage points in the past four months, according to Rodriguez.

Diverging Results

Polling company Consultores 30.11 in a Sept. 14-18 survey shows Chavez with 57.2 percent support and Capriles with 35.7 percent, while Hinterlaces in an Aug. 14 to Aug. 24 poll has the incumbent at 50 percent compared to his opponent’s 32 percent, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch report.

Varianzas in a Aug. 2 to Aug. 15 poll has Chavez at 49.3 percent and Capriles with 47.2 percent, while IVAD in a Sept. 2 to Sept. 10 survey shows Chavez ahead by 18.1 percentage points with 50.3 percent support, according to the report.

In the Datanalisis poll, Chavez had 47.3 percent against 37.2 percent for Capriles, according to the report that didn’t give a sample size or margin of error. Luis Vicente Leon, president of Datanalisis will present the firm’s latest survey at an event in Caracas tomorrow.

‘Totally Impossible’

Chavez said Sept. 5 that it’s “totally impossible” for him to lose the election and that the only issue to resolve is how wide of a margin of victory he’ll obtain. Chavez, 58, says that he’s cured from an undisclosed form of cancer that saw him fly to Cuba for a third operation to remove a tumor in February.

Capriles, a 40-year-old former governor of Miranda state, has visited more than 250 towns across the country and is promising to maintain some of Chavez’s popular social programs while dismantling economic policies such as currency and price controls in his bid to unseat the self-declared socialist.

The yield on the benchmark 9.25 percent bonds due in 2027 fell 8 basis points, or 0.08 percentage point, to 10.96 percent at 4:40 p.m. Caracas time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bond’s price rose 0.54 cents to 87.56 cents on the dollar.

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