Chavez's popularity is dropping. Why, you ask?
Hugo Chavez's support has declined in the polls as many Venezuelans say they are fed up with 27 percent inflation, a stagnant economy, faulty public services - and a government they see as incapable of doing much about it.
Despite that, Chavez still has a 53% approval rating, and just won a new mandate in February. And he is still the most popular politician in Venezuela, and he intends to keep it that way:
Yet Chavez still faces no strong political opponents with anywhere near as much support. To win back popularity, Chavez is likely to boost public spending in the coming months, especially on visible projects like fixing up hospitals and stocking state-run markets with subsidized food.
Chavez's mismanagement of the economy and state bureaucracy hasn't hurt him more because he is able to place blame for the poor economy on external enemies (i.e. the U.S.), and claim that he is working for the poor in Venezuela. And he has expanded access to education and health care.
Perhaps more importantly, Chavez has been able to consolidate power in the government while his opposition remains fractured and divided. None of Chavez's potential challengers are perceived as being viable to a majority of Venezuelans, and Chavez can always denounce dissident movements as extensions of U.S. imperialism.
So Chavez stays in power despite the fact that Venezuela is in a downward spiral and is likely to remain so unless oil prices spike again.