Could Chavez Lose?

| isn't my usual source for information on Venezuela (although I guess it is turning into a red state), but AcademicElephant has collected some extremely sunny polling data from the fast-approaching presidential election. If it's to be believed, Hugo Chavez is barely ahead.

Mr. Chavez' once demoralized and fractured opposition united behind an excellent candidate–Manuel Rosales–in August. Mr. Rosales cut Mr. Chavez' once-insurmountable lead to about a dozen points in September, and at the beginning of November there was more good news: AKSA had Mr. Rosales within 4 points. Was it too good to be true? A perfidious "outlier" poll, like those flimsy hooks on which we have hung so many doomed hopes over the past few weeks? In short order, another poll appeared that seemed to confirm such concerns. A poll reportedly by University Complutense in Madrid indicated a lead of some 20+ points for Mr. Chavez. Oh well, I thought. It's just not our season. But the intrepid Aleksander Boyd, whose journalistic tricks included writing an email and making a phone call, discovered that the poll was not conducted by the university, and may well be wishful thinking on the part of Mr. Chavez' campaign. And today, we have yet another poll, this one by Penn, Schoen & Berland, that shows Mr. Chavez with a 6-point advantage.

A Chavez defeat by the modestly popular Manuel Rosales would be the equivilent of George Pataki beating Mario Cuomo—the less famous, less-well funded guy has been given an opening by falling oil prices, but it'd be a miracle if he could close the deal.

More about the not-so-scary "threat" of Chavez here.