May 25, 2013
Venezuelan leader Maduro has big poll lead over Capriles
Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, has a commanding 14-percentage point lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles ahead of next month's election, according to the first major poll published since the death of Hugo Chavez.
Maduro would win 49.2 percent of the April 14 vote compared with 34.8 percent for Capriles, according to the survey by pollster Datanalisis that was cited on Monday in a research note by Barclays Bank.
It followed other polls showing a solid lead for the 50-year-old former bus driver who has vowed to continue Chavez's state-centered economic policies built on heavy regulations of business and generous social welfare programs.
"Considering the short campaign period, the sympathy effect in the wake of Chavez's death, restrictions on the media, and the demobilization of the opposition after two defeats last year, Maduro remains the favorite," Barclays said.
Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state, lost to Chavez in the presidential election last October, and allied candidates swept 20 of the 23 governorships in state elections in December.
Chavez's death two weeks ago convulsed the country and triggered a new election in the South American OPEC nation.
The vote marks the first test of the "Chavismo" movement's ability to maintain the late leader's radical socialism after his death, and it will be crucial for regional allies that depend on Caracas for financing and cheap fuel.
The emotional outpouring of affection for Chavez following his March 5 death, along with ample use of government television broadcasts, has helped give Maduro a leg up in the race.