In an informal poll in 2004, the populist progressive site Democratic Underground took a reader poll asking who they respected more: Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez or then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Chavez won, 70% to 30%.
John Kerry is the new Secretary of State. Hugo Chavez's death was announced on Mach 5th.
The 2004 poll made the leftist case for Chavez:
Even though most or all of us plan to back Kerry in the general election, he needs to learn more about Hugo Chavez. The oil companies in Venezuela used to own everything in Venezuela, making the vast majority of the people poverty-stricken. Despite threats on his life, future and safety, Hugo Chavez nationalized the oil companies in Venezuela so that the people could have an increased standard of living and so that the oil executives could not just loot the country's resources for the benefit of the few. Chavez has enjoyed the support of 70% of the Venezuelan people. The concerns about the referendum process are that Choicepoint (the company that helped Katherine Harris disenfranchise African-Americans in 2000) is helping the opposition to Chavez and the Bush forces are strongly supporting the opposition to Chavez.
The poll was nonscientific but it does provide another example of how the American left, including self-identified Democrats, idolize the far left.