Poll: Venezuela almost evenly split on Chavez

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2011 7:43 PM
Poll: Venezuela almost evenly split on Chavez

Venezuelans are almost evenly split about President Hugo Chavez's performance in office, according to a poll released Monday.

The survey by the Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis said 49 percent approve of Chavez's administration, while 46 percent do not.

The poll questioned 1,300 people from April 25 to May 5, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The percentage of respondents who held a favorable view was slightly higher than in December 2010, when 47 percent said they approved of Chavez, Datanalisis president Luis Vicente Leon told The Associated Press.

The results found "the country is divided in two practically equal parts," Leon said.

The poll was financed by Datanalisis clients, including private businesses and individuals not identified by the pollster.

Chavez's popularity has fallen over the past two years, and has recently been hovering around the 50 percent range, Leon said. At the time of the last presidential election in 2006, his support was above 70 percent.

Leon said the drop shows Chavez has lost his "popular connection" with an important segment of voters, despite the president's frequently televised appearances in recent months promoting public housing projects and other government programs.

Venezuelans' views of Chavez varied depending on his handling of different areas of government, the poll found.

For example, 59 percent said they approved of Chavez's performance on education, while about half were positive about the state of water services and government social programs known as "missions."

However, 84 percent said they had a negative view of the government's response to crime, and the government also received low marks for its anti-corruption efforts, of which 76 percent disapproved. On the government's support of private investment, 65 percent had a negative opinion.

Chavez is preparing to run for re-election in 2012.

The leftist former army paratroop commander was first elected in 1998 and was re-elected in 2000 after the approval of a new constitution that lengthened presidential terms from five to six years. He was re-elected a second time in 2006 for a term that ends in February 2013.

The Datanalisis survey also found that 61 percent of respondents didn't want him to be re-elected and 36 percent said they were in favor of another term.

Using the poll results to project any scenarios onto the 2012 election would be premature, Leon said.

"He has money, he has power," Leon said, and also enjoys wide exposure in state-controlled news media.

"Chavez still continues to be individually the country's most important leader," Leon said.