What is the effect of Leopoldo Lopez dropping out of the Venezuelan elections?
On January 24th, 2012, Leopoldo Lopez, one of the strongest opponents against President Chavez, dropped out of the Venezuelan elections. He pledged to support candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
What was the effect of this move on the other candidates’ support base? To answer this question, we analyzed the flow of communications via twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. The effect of Lopez’s withdrawal from the race was interesting, and was similar to a something that happened recently right here in the USA.
A few months ago, Herman Cain, a conservative Republican candidate, dropped out of the US Republican primary race. Ttwick had been watching the raise of Cain, even before it was noticed by major media outlets. One effect of Cain’s withdrawal was an increase in Obama’s ranking, as measured by our algorithms.
Going back to the Venezuelan elections, intuition would suggest that Lopez’s base would switch to supporting Capriles. However, the ebb and flow of information that we are monitoring indicates that the single largest (in percentage terms) beneficiary of Lopez dropping out of the race was candidate Maria Corina Machado.
Nevertheless, Chavez still maintains a high popularity. Capriles leads the opposition, and the other candidates don’t have enough “momentum” to catch up with either Chavez or Capriles.
Another phenomenon we have observed are the different “Social Network Structures” that the opposition and the Chavismo show.
In the “Chavismo” structure, there is a predominance of unidirectional communication, sort of like military structures where commands are given and obeyed. There is no voicing of opinions, as can be seen from the flows of communication between the PSUV node and the other satellite nodes. Practically, we don’t see crossing of arrows, which is an indication of hierarchical “barriers” typical of military structures. This sort of structure shows zero flexibility and are prone to breakdowns – if the top nodes are affected, followers wouldn’t know what to do, since they hardly communicate with each other. The chart below, left, shows the SNV of Hugo Chavez, as an example of hierarchical structure. The only exception to this generalized SNV in the “Chavismo” side is the SNV of Nicolas Maduro, which looks genuine and prone to bi-lateral communications.
The opposition’s network is more flexible, with a great deal of flow between the different participants, still around a central node (the candidate). The example above right, shows the SNV of Diego Arria, where open dialogue and communication is evident, indicated by the multiple arrows in and out of the different nodes, and crossing each other. These are also typical of the SNVs of Maria Corina Machado, Pablo Perez, Pablo Medina, and Henrique Capriles.
There is another type of structure present in the “Chavismo” side, around the SNV of Elias Jaua and Diosdado Cabello, which may indicate polarization inside the PSUV, but that will be the topic of another blog.
The science of Artificial Intelligence applied to Social Network Analysis is in its infancy, but provides a great deal of insight into human interactions and an edge to the savvy user.
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