The simian king is losing, God willing
All signs are pointing to a public turning its back on dictator Hugo Chavez and his failed 13 years of socialism. The big question coming up on Oct. 7 is whether he'll accept defeat.
As if there wasn't enough turmoil elsewhere in the world already, bubbling up from Caracas is the prospect of a violent explosion over a hotly contested election where Hugo Chavez is facing his strongest challenge ever.
Vote for Chavez or "expect a civil war," Chavez told voters last week, which is pretty much the tone of the campaign now. As for his challenger, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Chavez said the latter could be expected to leave this election "on a stretcher."
Maybe that's because anyone subscribing to Capriles Radonski's Facebook or Twitter feed can see daily signs of Chavez's challenger's tremendous popular support — pulling in million-strong crowds at times, often from Venezuela's poorest shantytowns.
The 40-year-old governor of Miranda state has run a disciplined, efficient campaign despite tremendous odds, connecting well with voters even with draconian limits on his media coverage and limited funds.
It stands in sharp contrast to Chavez's unlimited media coverage and capacity to shovel cash, which has nevertheless amounted to a slipshod campaign with all the inefficiencies of his socialism.
On Sunday, huge crowds dotted the cinder block streets of Petare, one of the poorest and most crime-riddled parts of Caracas, and shouted support for Capriles.
Venezuelan sources tell us it looks like a toss-up, but the electoral momentum is clearly with Capriles. While some observers see the race as roughly tied, others say Capriles could win — despite at least one poll showing Chavez with a 13-point lead.
A Venezuelan consultant, who asked to remain unnamed, met with all five of the country's top pollsters Monday and found they all had one common conclusion: Chavez's support is capped at 48% of the vote. [...]
Wouldn't that be a beautiful thing? Chavez and Obama defeated in the same year. The mind reels with ecstasy...