CARACAS, Venezuela – A strong majority of Venezuelans plan to cast their ballots for President Hugo Chavez on Dec. 3, with most saying the fiery opponent of President Bush has handled government and foreign relations well, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.
About 59 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Chavez for a third term, while 27 percent said they would support opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Thirteen percent of those surveyed by the polling firm Ipsos for the Associated Press said they were undecided or wouldn’t answer.
Since Chavez was first elected in 1998, the leftist president has become perhaps Latin America’s most controversial leader while gaining notoriety worldwide as a critic of the U.S. government.
At home, the poll showed, Venezuelans are generally content with the country’s direction, with 61 percent of all respondents saying Venezuela is moving in the right direction and 31 percent saying it’s on the wrong track.
The survey found sharp differences in voting preference depending on income. The wealthiest likely voters solidly supported Rosales, while the middle class appeared split and the poorest overwhelmingly backed Chavez over Rosales – 70 percent to 16 percent.
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