A poll released Monday by GIS XXI, which is run by a former Chávez cabinet member, gives Maduro 55.3 percent of the vote versus Capriles’ 44.7 percent. GIS founder Jesse Chacón told VTV television that Maduro’s lead had widened since the beginning of the year. Other polls also give Maduro a double-digit lead.
When Chávez died after an 18-month battle with cancer, it triggered snap elections with tight time frames. This campaign will run for just 10 days.
That leaves Capriles with little time to woo voters, said José Antonio Gil with Datanalisis.
“It’s going to be hard to turn his numbers around in 15 days,” he said. “But in politics anything can happen.”
Many of the allegations the candidates and their supporters are tossing at each other are recycled from past campaigns, others are more sinister. Last month, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said two former U.S. diplomats — Roger Noriega and Otto Reich — were working with the CIA to recruit “mercenaries” in Central America to kill Capriles.
Jaua said the plot was intended to generate violence in Venezuela to justify a “foreign invasion like they did in Libya and like they have wanted to do in our sister Republic of Syria.”
Capriles has said that if anything happens to him it would be Maduro’s fault, and both Noriega and Reich have ridiculed the allegations.
“Maduro’s latest hateful fabrication is part of a cynical strategy aimed at distracting Venezuela from the man-made disaster of his party’s 14-year ‘socialist’ rule,” Reich, the former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela and a longtime Chávez critic, wrote in an open letter. “Since Maduro could not win the election by offering the Venezuelans bread, because bread is just one of the many foodstuffs missing from store shelves, he offers circuses.”
During his 14 years in power, Chávez perfected the art of name calling, said Gil with Datanalisis. Chávez regularly referred to the opposition as “the squalid ones” and “corrupt oligarchs” and called Capriles “a mediocre bootlicker.”
But the invective in this campaign is reaching new heights, he said.
“Personal attacks are nothing new,” he said. “What is new is their intensity.”