Watch: Youth Vote Will be Critical in Venezuela Election


But the issue that could weigh the most amongst young voters in this election is the country's high crime rate. "Chávez supporters, independents, and opposition supporters all perceive that crime is the biggest problem in this country," said Rafael Delgado, a sociologist who regularly polls voters on their electoral preferences. "Most voters perceive that this is the problem that has to be toned down, no matter who wins the election," Delgado told ABC/Univision. Venezuela's homicide rate, which is twice as high as that of Mexico, has climbed constantly since Chávez became the country's president. And according to government own figures homicides are the second highest cause of death amongst people aged 15 to 24. Delgado runs the Varianzas polling agency, and he regularly surveys voters on their electoral preferences. In its most recent survey conducted in mid-September, Varianzas found that Capriles had a five percent lead amongst voters aged 18 to 34.

But some young voters say that the crime problem does not deter them from electing President Chávez to another six-year-term. Chávez supporter Ernesto Meléndez manned a red tent with loud speakers and electoral propaganda in a Caracas square. He argued that the media is also to blame for crime because it broadcasts ads for products like cell phones that make poor people feel like they need to get their hands on such items to "feel good about themselves." "It's too easy to blame a country's problems on one person," Meléndez said. "Everyone must be held accountable."

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