In comments, there a mention of the Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights blog, coordinated by David Smilde of the University of Georgia. The link went to an excellent post by Rebecca Hanson on how the protests have not yet reached the working-class western half of Caracas.
The post is worth reading. It brings home two things. First, although there have been protests in Chavista neighborhoods since the violence, they are not typical.
Second, it shows why the opposition gained so much ground in the last election, coming within a hair’s breadth of victory. It isn’t that poorer voters have enthusiastically embraced the opposition as much as their faith in the Socialist Party has waned. That said, they have turned to the opposition with their votes; it is not just a matter of lower enthusiasm. Consider this chart using data from the IDEA:
Between 2006 and 2012, as crime rose and shortages began to appear, the opposition vote increased by over two million. The Socialist vote also increased, but by much less. Now, the voting-age population increased by a little over three million: either the opposition won 80% of all voters aged 18-24 (unlikely) or substantial numbers of people switched their vote between the two elections.*
From 2012 to 2013, without Chávez on the ballot, the Socialist vote shrank while turnout remained stable. (And remarkably high!) The opposition vote grew again. This time the evidence of vote-switching is impossible to miss.
Moreover the swing towards the opposition was quite uniform across the country, as you can see in the below county-level map.
These data indicate Chavismo losing quite a lot of popular support, which should not be surprising given both that the Socialists lost Hugo Chávez’s unparalleled political skills and presided over a rapidly deteriorating economic and security environment.
For a great post that really brings home the government’s waning support, read this. It’s from Counterpunch and written right after the 2013 election.
Which brings us to the mistranslation in Hanson’s (excellent!) post. At the very end, she recounts seeing a banner draped over a pedestrian bridge on Sucre Avenue. (I have lifted her photograph and posted it below.) She translated it as, “If you want to get to the government win elections! Get tough on organizers of violence!”
That’s not quite right. A better translation would be: “If they want to take office, then they should win elections! Crack down on the violent demonstrators!”