A poll suggests Venezuelans with a preference are split between President Hugo Chavez and the opposition, although a sizable one third are undecided about whom they would vote for if elections were held soon.
Luis Vicente Leon, director of the polling firm Datanalisis, said Thursday that results of a survey last month said 26 percent of those questioned were sure they would vote for Chavez if elections were held within a week.
Support for all the opposition's potential candidates reached 28 percent, while 34 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided. More than 13 percent said they would not vote for anybody.
The poll involved talking to 1,300 randomly selected Venezuelans at their homes between Jan. 26 and Feb. 5 and had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. It was financed by a group of more than 300 clients including businesses and individuals, Leon said.
Election officials have said Venezuela's presidential vote will likely be held in December 2012.
Leon said Chavez remains Venezuela's most popular politician, with an approval rating of more than 50 percent _ though Leon did not release a specific approval rating.
Chavez's popularity has slipped in recent years, decreasing from more than 70 percent in 2006, when he last won re-election.
"Chavez has never gone into an election ... in such a weak position," Leon said, but he stressed that much could change before next year's election.
A coalition of Venezuela's opposition parties announced last month that its members agreed to hold a primary to pick a single presidential candidate. The coalition announced the primary would be held between Nov. 27, 2011, and March 11, 2012.
Leon said the opposition politicians with the most support in the latest poll were Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda state, 17 percent; former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales, 9 percent; Pablo Perez, governor of Zulia state, 7 percent; and Leopoldo Lopez, a former Caracas district mayor, 7 percent.