Poll shows Venez govt candidate with wide margin

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Associated Press

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 4:32 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan government candidate Nicolas Maduro enjoys a 14 percentage point advantage over his opposition challenger in the run-up to April 14 elections to replace the late President Hugo Chavez, a new poll finds.

The survey by the Datanalisis firm found Maduro, who swore in March 8 as acting leader, with the support of 49.2 percent of respondents, compared to 34.8 percent for Gov. Henrique Capriles. Released by investment bank Barclays Capital, the poll surveyed 800 people from March 11 to 13 and has a margin of error of 3.4 points.

Maduro has made heavy use of state TV and other government resources in his campaign. Capriles lost to Chavez in an October vote by 12 percentage points.

The note from Barclays said Maduro had enjoyed a limited "sympathy effect" from Chavez's March 5 death and remains the favorite in the race.

The poll found that the percentage of Venezuelans with a positive image of the country's situation dropped from 67 percent last year to 56 percent this month. Only 47 percent of Venezuelans gave the country's economic performance a positive evaluation.

Just last month, the government devalued the Venezuelan currency from 4.3 bolivars to the dollar to 6.3, amid inflation that's topped 20 percent and food shortages in markets.

Still, the Barclays note said "Maduro seems to have an important edge."

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