Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why holding an opinion poll in Honduras was so threatening

Thanks to Charles of Mercury Rising for pointing us to Al Giordano's post with real polling numbers on the UNpopularity of the coup among Honduras.

For weeks I have been waiting for more solid data like this. I have responded to innumerable comments from people in and out of Honduras claiming that "90%" of the Honduran people are happy President Zelaya was violently removed from the country. We knew that wasn't true right after the coup, when CID Gallup polling data showed 46% of the people disapproved of the coup.

Guess what? the number is higher today. The polling, done by Consultants in Investigation of Markets and Public Opinion, authorized polling agency for the Honduran elections, was completed between August 23 and 29, and has a margin of error of +/-4%.

In response to the question, Are you in favor of the June 28 coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales?, 52.7% answered no; 29.9% did not answer; and only 17.4% said yes.

So: less polarized now than before, the Honduran people are decisively against the coup, and the number approving of it has declined more sharply even than the increase of those against it, compared to July's CID Gallup poll.

Go read the rest of Al Giordano's post. See how unpopular Micheletti is (hint: he did not gain in popularity from his already miserable 30%).

51% of those polled support the return of President Zelaya, and while 33% oppose it, this is far lower than the claimed overwhelming majority support cited by all those angry email writers.

Assessments of the favorable/unfavorable ratings in the same poll show President Zelaya and First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya as the two most favorably judged political figures in the country.

Someone get Rep Aaron Schock, Sen Jim DeMint, and Connie Mack on the phone-- I am sure they will want to revise their mischaracterizations of Honduran popular opinion.

And meanwhile, those of us hearing every day from concerned Hondurans against the coup, and for the restoration of constitutional government, can rest assured that this is the actual majority opinion.

To the repeated question, what were the coup authors afraid of on June 28? we now have the answer: the truth.

9 comments:

Doug said...

Unless I'm missing something, the original asemblea question wasn't polled here. Carlos Reina quoted a 72% in favor of the Cuarta Urna/asemblea constituyente, but those numbers have not been published anywhere that I know of.

It is interesting to see Carlos Rayes only a couple of points behind Elvin Santos, although the Don't Knows are almost 40%.
October 7, 2009 5:54 AM

Nell said...

@Doug: Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle cited similar numbers in his recent Harvard lecture (posted by Adrienne Pine); the context was the early spring, after Zelaya suggested the encuesta. It seems that the numbers he's citing are on the question to be asked in the encuesta, i.e., having a Cuarta Urna -- not directly on holding a constituent assembly.

So it seems pretty likely to me that there were published numbers at that time, and that they were highly favorable. Indeed, it's hard to imagine that the results of the June 28 encuesta would have gone against holding a Cuarta Urna: As Pastor says, "You would not get many people to vote against being consulted.".

The results of an actual vote on a constituent assembly held alongside the office elections would have been harder to predict -- particularly after a media/political firestorm in which all Zelaya's opponents claimed that the constituent assembly was only about extending his term in power.

phoenixwoman said...

Here's a question: What is the possibility of candidates succeeding as write-ins? Although we may hope that Micheletti will be too stupid to accept Zelaya's rash offer of reinstatement by October 15th in exchange for elections, if he does accept it, the nation will be faced with the option of electing the corrupt people who did the coup or their corrupt opponents from the major parties.

--Charles

RAJ said...

Neither of us have found any trace of a published poll reflecting the projected popularity of the cuarta urna poll scheduled for June 28. The new poll does not ask any questions directly related to the June 28 poll, or the question of whether a constitutional assembly might be convened.

The very low numbers for Pepe Lobo and the relatively high number for Carlos Reyes might imply an even more fragmented election outcome than in the 2005 election, which resulted in a delayed declaration of the winner.

RAJ said...

The ballots used do not have any space for writing in candidate names.

Article 163 of the Ley Electoral (Decreto 44-2004) specifies that the ballots for each election level are printed on paper of a different color.

Presidential ballots are defined in Articulo 162 as having the photographs of the candidates above a box that the voter marks. When the ballot boxes are opened, ballots of the wrong color are separated from those of the appropriate color for the specific level (Article 173). The Presidential ballot box is reviewed first.

Article 174 defines as null votes any ballot with a mark that extends beyond a single box, and defines any mark that is visible in a box as a vote for that candidate. Writing outside the box, adding obscene legends or symbols (!) nullifies the vote.

So, the Honduran system is insulated against effective popular resistance through write in votes. The sole option it presents is that of spoiling the ballot, but voters would have to be careful not to make a mark that could be interpreted as marking on square. Apparently, the best way to spoil a vote is to write something obscene on it, or at least, that would definitively nullify the vote.

Doug said...

Nell -

Thanks.

btw, I finally found the video of Micheletti's truly incredible Monologue in fron of the Guaymuras delegation yesterday:

You Tube: http://bit.ly/rCeyG (9min)

Odysseus said...

This was a push poll, and seriously biased. There is no credibility at all for the results as a consequence. See http://blog.erlingsson.com/?p=1525 for an analysis.

RAJ said...

I urge readers of this blog to review the source listed by Odysseus, not because it is a good analysis; quite the opposite. It is an amazing demonstration of the lengths that coup apologists will go to preserve their paranoid world view.

There are legitimate questions to raise about any poll. The report on this poll does take a point of view, and this almost certainly reflects being commissioned by opponents of the coup. But the arguments made in the referenced blog post are exceptionally bizarre.

A "push poll" forces certain kinds of answers through the wording of questions. The author of the critique of this poll takes issue with the first question, asking people's opinion of the coup d'etat on June 28 that removed Zelaya from power. If I wanted to criticize that question, I would say that using the term "coup d'etat" (although in my view, and that of the world governments, accurate) could dissuade some people (who do not accept that characterization) from responding.

But that is not the argument made in the critique. Instead, the author suggests that people in Honduras may have been confused and thought the reference was to a supposed coup d'etat planned by Zelaya for June 28; so he suggests the anti-coup respondents could include anti-Zelaya respondents.

This is zany nonsense. By now, everyone in Honduras knows what actually took place June 28, and the question is about those events.

The critique gets successively more imaginative, culminating in a reconstruction of how the poll must have been taken to produce results the author cannot accept. This shows a person struggling to come to terms with what the poll shows: a Honduran nation divided, but-- consistent with the CID Gallup polling data from July-- opposed to the coup, disapproving of Roberto Micheletti, and split about President Zelaya.

One part of the commentary that struck me especially: the author says he cannot believe that educated people in Honduras are so strongly against the coup and in favor of restoration of the elected government, and says this doesn't match his experience. But my network of correspondents in Honduras is entirely composed of university-educated people, and none of them has come out openly in support of the coup. Many of them have noted they were not supporters of Zelaya but are now, because he is a symbol of legitimate government. Even the one person in my network regarded by other Hondurans in that group as a "golpista" wrote saying "I am not a golpista".

So the level of support seems to me much like what I have-- perhaps 80-90% of the university-educated people I am connected with, as colleagues, students, and peers in universities, are opposed to the disruption of constitutional order.

There are a lot of things to question about any poll. But the arguments of this blogger are not convincing ones. As he admits, the sample of respondents is representative of ages, sexes, and educational levels. It is spread throughout the country, and selection of samples is not purposive. Yes, we cannot know the opinions of those who failed to respond entirely; but there are a lot of people who did not respond to particular questions, and the results include a credible level of support for Micheletti and the coup (around 20%). That is about what I would expect: the elite who have an investment in the de facto regime's policies; or who are extremely ideological.

Nell said...

@Doug: Thanks for the pointer to the Micheletti meltdown; there's a fairly vivid description in Ben Fox's AP story, but I imagine the video gives the full effect.

@RAJ: Thanks for that information about how ballot markings are interpreted.

That probably means my idea of two months ago for expressive ballot nullification (circling Ham and Reyes' squares) isn't viable, especially since it's hard to pull off without putting a mark in Elvin Santos' square.

A highly expressive example, no doubt produced with the election rules in mind, is at Vos el soberano (upper left, among the rotating images):
GOLPISTAS is scrawled across the four left-hand candidates' boxes, leaving Ham and Reyes shining through, unmarked, as the pro-democracy, pro-constituyente candidates -- but not actually legitimizing the elections by casting a vote for either of them.

No matter what happens between now and Nov. 29, the political discussion of the constituent assembly has begun, and needs to deepen. The poll results show clearly that a lot of people who oppose the coup are still in favor of the elections being held on schedule, and a substantial percentage of those people will probably vote.

Granted, developments in the meantime may have changed that dramatically -- such as the state of siege decree (now on day 17 or 13, depending on whether you count from issuance 22 Sept or Gaceta publication 26 Sept).

Actual resistance participants are unlikely to vote. Sympathizers may. Elections, even discredited ones, are an organizing and mobilizing opportunity. One way to take advantage would be to offer voters a way to express pro-constituyente sympathies other than casting a vote for Reyes. Something non-obscene, easy to spell or draw, to mark across the first four candidates' boxes...