Machine Man

“We have 530,000 votes for Pablo Pérez in Zulia. And when I tell you we have 530,000 votes for Pablo Pérez in Zulia, that’s not some estimate, or a hope, or a plan or anything like that. When I say we have 530,000 votes for Pablo Pérez in Zulia it’s because I know which 530,000 people we’re talking about. We’ve already contacted them and they’ve made a specific commitment to vote for Pablo. So we know their names, we know their cédula numbers, we know where they live, we know where they vote, we know how they’re planning to get to the polls, and if they need a ride, we know who is going to give them that ride.”

We’re on the road from La Cañada to La Concepción, south of Maracaibo, going from one Pablo Pérez campaign event to the next, and Machine Man is feeling confident. He’s sure the polls have Sunday’s race badly, badly wrong. He wonders out loud whether the pollsters who have HCR far ahead of his guy are just incompetent or actively corrupt.

“We’re going to win,” he declares, with an air of someone who’s worked through all the angles, covered all his bases, and speaks out of mathematical certainty.

Then he pulls out his iPad and starts to show me why.

“We’ve already made more than 14,000 contacts in La Cañada, and there are just over 44,000 voters there. In Villa de Rosario we’re a bit behind but we’ll meet our target of 9,000 by election day, easy.”

As he speaks, he’s flipping through a thicket of data downloaded onto spreadsheets on his tablet.

“See, we have specific numerical targets for every municipality, every parish, every voting center and every voting table in the state. We have mobilizers down to the block level. Right now I can tell you there are 12 tables, tables, in Zulia where we might lose. That’s out of over 1,000.”

In Zulia, their goal is to mobilize 80% of the people who voted for the UNT card in September 2010. Back then, 752,000 voted for the opposition, and out of those 640,000 voted on the Un Nuevo Tiempo ticket. 80% of that number is 512,000, so that was their target for 12F. They’ve already exceeded that number of contacts. Nationwide, the UNT machine is looking to mobilize 800,000 voters +.

“And that’s just the mobilized UNT vote,” he hastens to add, “that doesn’t count the votes our allies are going to bring out in Tachira, in Margarita, Monagas, the llanos, Southern Valencia. And it doesn’t count spontaneous votes, the ones who turn out without anyone having to ferry them to a polling station.”

Machine Man looks up from the screen and says, “all in, we’ll be well over a million votes. Easy.”

Then he leans back and repeats, now mantra-like.

“We’re going to win.”

56 thoughts on “Machine Man

  1. and yet I hope he is wrong… PP is the worst thing that could happen to the opposition. Outside of Zulia, nobody is interested in having him as president.. a guys with no plan and no charisma. Chavez would probably squash him.


    • “a guys with no plan and no charisma. Chavez would probably squash him.”

      I don’t follow the logic. Since when does a man with no plan nor charisma not have a chance to get elected in Venezuela? :P


    • I’m not sure what Pablo Perez needs to do and say and show to prove that he has a plan for Venezuela. His speech is full of content and ideas, real proposals. Not sure we are looking at the same man. Plus we should begin to think strategically and vote with our heads. Its not about winning on the 12th is about beating Chavez. In 1 day Chavez will destroy Capriles with his rhetoric against the Sifrino-Oligarchs and that goes deep in the heart of the population that belongs to the lower classes and they are the majority. If the middle class votes strategically they will vote for the candidate that can take votes away from Chavez Oct 7th, for the candidate that has a good story to tell, that comes from way down and moved up by his own determination and hard work, the one candidate that talks to the people because he belongs to the people, the candidate that Chavez cannot destroy with a day of rhetoric. I’m not maracucha, I live in NY, and I’m voting with my head.


      • I think that’s a perfectly reasonable post. Yet as the candidate for AD, COPEI, MAS, and essentially the entire cuartarepublica holdover squad, I think the attacks PP would have to face are just as harsh as the ones in store for HCR, just as resonant, and arguably more justified.

        What will it take to weather the storm? A clear, consistently delivered, highly disciplined, properly honed message delivered by someone with growing credibility.


        • I diagree Quico. Are you saying AD, COPEI, MAS are not going to support HCR after February 12th? They are still part of the MUD as far as I know, and HCR is going to be their candidate too if he wins on Feb 12th (AND he is going to need their help).

          I think in the end, the cuarta republic shtick is not going to work against either PP or HCR because both are young and relatively fresh. It’s not like Pinerua is coming back from the grave to run for president!


          • I agree with your post. Plus we need to think of Podemos and PPT, what do they represent anyway? Not a great support. On another note I’ve never been adeca nor copeyana, but must say that the reasons that brought us the mess of Chavez and co. had to do with a general emotional and unrestrained hatred towards politics and in particular against the IV republic and what they represented. After 13 years of purgatory, people should mature a bit and realize that we shouldn’t make the same mistakes of the past. Unrestrained emotions don’t take us places… Our past is as necessary as our future. We cannot understand the present unless we learn from the past. A total rejection of everything past is immature. Pablo Perez however doesn’t represent the past, nor the IV, he’s fresh, young and popular. All needed qualities for the big fight against the mega-powers in October. If Capriles wants to win he’ll need the ADs and the COPEIs as well.


            • Is Pérez young? Doesn’t look like.
              Is he fresh? In which sense? To me he sounds like an adeco.
              Is he popular outside Zulia? I doubt it.

              Do you want to know the past? Well: do you know that the term “Un Nuevo Tiempo”
              was used in the early seventies as a synonym for the movement started by Acción Democrática?

              I mean: the guys were so uncreative that they used a synonym for AD to create a new party…
              And Pérez’ way of talking is not “pueblo”. It is adeco. They are related but not mutually interchangeable terms.


            • HCR should get that machinery for himself if he wants to win in October; I’ve frequently felt that he often went out of his way to alienate almost any possible “big” ally.

              Even though I’d vote for any of them come October -no hesitation, no proverbial handkerchiefs- I believe PP could have it easier in order to retain the unitary momentum. That being said, I’m sick of Rafael Poleo’s blurbs against HCR, which play to the other side.

              As for the “IV Republic” charge, well, I won’t say that such a thing just mirrors chavismo’s World-view (“the world stopped in 1830 and began anew in 1998”), but I might add that any opposition candidate will have that levelled against him: Wasn’t HCR diputado for Copei? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.


            • Pablo Perez is the closes thing to AD/COPEI that is out there, from the way he handles himself to the way his campaign is run. He is popular in Zulia and only in Zulia, he was the right hand of Manuel Rosales who is despised in the rest of the country (for one reason or another) and his speeches are boring and lack charisma (even compared to HCR). He performed poorly in every single debate.

              His campaigning is as old school as it gets. You are right in that the middle class will vote for the candidate that can take votes away from Chavez Oct 7th, but there is little reason for the lower class to vote for him. He was Rosales dauphin and can be easily associated with the cuarta. Its not like Maracaibo is very well run either..

              In the other hand you have Capriles who looks (is?) younger and has a clearer speech. His party is younger and doesnt smell of 4ta republica. He is backed up by Lopez and his VP party. Both PJ and VP have managed to grow outside Caracas/Miranda in a way that UNT could only dream of.

              Capoldo has a chance against Chavez. They inspire the younger voter (Venezuela is a relatively young country). Pablo Perez inspires 4ta republica and backroom smoked filled rooms.


            • Eltank, Kepler, I honestly think you are not looking at the key aspects that give Pablo Perez his popular appeal. He doesn’t necessarily speak to you, and obviously not to a segmented portion of Miranda. That’s irrelevant at the end. We obviously know that this demographic will vote against Chávez October 7, so why even bother too much. The key here is to gather all the votes that we can to beat Chávez. Capoldo is precisely the antithesis of that proposition. They speak to themselves, to all those that have voted over and over against Chávez and yet haven’t managed to get him out. To the middle class, to the economic groups. The key again is to get the votes of the disaffected Chavistas, those that will never vote for an oligarch even if he rolls up his sleeves and walks the flooded streets of the barrios. They won’t vote for an oligarch period. However, they might vote for someone that looks like them and that even speaks to their issues, its simple. Its okay that the campaign of Pablo Perez has not reached you, it was never intended to do so. I think he’s clearly positioning himself as the one that can connect with the people, those that Capoldo can never connect with. Lets remember this election is not about who looks younger, and who speaks clearer to the middle class, is about who can beat Chavez. Lets keep an aesthetic distance when we think about the key issues here, and vote with our heads. First lets get rid of Chavez in October, so that we can have many opportunities to vote for a Capriles in the future and see him win, the way things are right now he doesn’t strike a chance against Chávez, who’s the real problem, not AD or COPEI.


            • Irpo,

              We are definitely not seeing the same guy. PP doesn’t come from an impoverished family (not filthy rich either), nor he speaks to the people (or to anyone for that matter). I think PP has a lot going on for him, but not of the arguments you are bringing up are demonstrable in reality. He has not been very successful in communicating his plan for Venezuela to a middle class, Caracas guy like me or to anyone else that I know. I’ve noticed that he is usually preferred by an older demographic at least here in Miranda. If you ask me what is PP major drawback is that if you are not looking closely you think you are listening to Manuel Rosales. They are the same thing and machinery and all, they are proven to not be able to defeat Chavez.

              Also, reasonably respected pollsters (Consultores 21) showed that Capriles has way more credibility against Chavez than PP against Chavez every where but in Zulia. So I am not sure where are you getting those arguments.


            • Rodrigo, What I’m saying is precisely that PP is not directing his message to the middle class, but to the lower classes. He doesn’t need the middle class if he wants to beat Chavez. And the pollsters that you mention all specify that the groups that tend to follow PP are precisely the lower sectors. I’m not making this up its in the papers. You criticize the traditional party machinery, but how do you think that Capriles will win in October without them? I can’t visualize any possibility of the sort. If Capriles wants to win, he’ll need AD, COPEI and UNT. So either way, its not smart to trash the machine.


            • irpo,

              By all means the party machinery is necessary. I think PJ has tried to build one. MCM admitted in the Panorama debate that she wishes she had one. But I would like to think that the leaderships within UNT, AD, Copei are decent enough, that in the PP loses, they will do everything they can to get those machineries working towards the unity candidate. I don’t think people should consider “machinery” and advantage for the primaries.


  2. you may hate it right now, but you will need it later… Capriles people keeps attacking THE Machine as if they could easily win in October without them and they can’t (no matter what absurd reasoning the maracucho chimbo from this blog my come up with).
    The people who press the button of the machine may have signed a deal that they will support the winner no matter what… but the people that moves the machine didn’t… and unlike chavismo… in this machine if you don’t go to vote you don’t get fire, and these greasy people are getting really piss off by the constant attacks for being part of a machine that has done so much good for the opposition in past elections… did you forget that this machine is not in front of you but right by your side?


    • Seré chimbo, pero por lo menos doy la cara y no me escondo bajo un “anónimo.” Y si, nunca he dicho que Capriles no necesita la maquinaria de UNT, pa’que sepáis.


    • Anonimo,
      Criticizing a politician, even within one’s “side” is part of the daily discourse in open societies where there is debate. I know many Venezuelans are not used to this, after spending only 38 years or so with non-military caudillos (but still, populists), after so little time to have a real competition (we started having some after 88 with the attempt to decentralized things).

      I am not sure who these “greasy people” are and where. I think the vast majority in the opposition will go to support the winner.
      Very few who claim to be with the alternative parties will play Chávez’s game and if they do, they should know they will be shooting on their own foot.


    • For what it’s worth, I don’t see where you get the sense that I “hate it right now.” I think UNT is doing an admirable job organizing its people and putting together the kind of no bullshit groundgame we’ll need nationwide on October 7th, no matter who wins this Sunday. I know for a fact PJ is perfectly cognizant of how powerful the UNT machine is, and they’re not stupid – they know HCR would have no chance in October without a big bold win in Zulia.

      The proof of the pudding comes in just five days.


  3. He will win the primaries. What best strategy for the chavistas than to vote for the worst option for the oppo?


  4. This is exactly what I was hoping that Diego Arria’s crew would do… He could have partnered with a group like Esdata and focus on opposition strongholds and not in places like Parapara for now (those could be targeted after the primaries). Not sure if they did any of this… Arria does have a heavy emphasis on using social media a la Mockus in Colombia, but not sure if it will be enough…. let’s see!


  5. They called to my house yesterday, my grandma picked up the phone, they asked her if she was going to vote for PP, then they asked for her CI (ID number).

    Funny thing is, my grandma isnt going to vote for PP and yet she said with great enthusiasm that YES SHE WILL :D


    • I wonder how many false positives they have? I mean what are you going to say: “I’m not voting for PP”? And then have to suffer through repeated calls and please of why the hell are you not voting for PP?

      I’m pretty sure his number is at least a bit inflated. Nevertheless the machinery and organization seem impressive, the proof is in the pudding as they say.


  6. of course chávez will forbid the pesuvi reds to go and vote… the last thing he needs is to let real numbers tallied by the MUD/Súmate of total voters to come out of the black box closet he has hidden himself in for these past years.
    by the way…what do you guys/gals make of fidel’s assuredness that cavez can’t lose? i personally think he didi the oppo a favor…what’s your take?


      • i know, but the fact that fidel is backing up his pupil with such assurance don’t you think it could work against the said pupil between nini’s or even disenchanted chavistas who can’t stand the cubiche master?


  7. There is not candidate that cannot be attacked by the governement.
    The name of the game is to win no matter the attacks.
    This is a bizantine discusion.
    We have to give our support to whoever wins on 12-02. That includes supporting someone who was not our candidate.
    The winner and his team most do his best to get the votes of those people that voted before for Chavez, the other votes are granted.


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