CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.
The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.
Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.
“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.
That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.
“In the last four surveys, Maduro’s popularity has been stable, it hasn’t fallen further,” Datanalisis added.
Maduro is seen unlikely to stage a lasting comeback even if the row with the United States gives him a temporary bounce.
The diplomatic flare-up’s effect can only go so far in distracting a country with near 70 percent inflation, the world’s second highest murder rate and shortages of basic goods including milk and diapers.
Datanalisis said the scarcity index, a measure of shortages of staple goods, hit 57 percent in Caracas this month.
Opinion polls in Venezuela are divergent and controversial, but Datanalisis is one of the most closely watched and respected.
Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Andrew Hay