Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peña Nieto slips while López Obrador rises in separate presidential preference polls

Leftist candidate could prove to be an irritating party spoiler

Just over two weeks ago I reported on a January 2-6 survey conducted by the respected Mexican pollster Parametría, showing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto with a huge lead in the race for Mexico's presidency. I wrote:

"Peña Nieto has 94% name recognition and a 78% approval rating. When asked which party they would likely vote for, 49% of respondents selected PRI (Peña Nieto), 28% chose PAN (its nominee will be selected Feb. 5), and 23% picked PRD (Andrés Manuel López Obrador), which is usually referred to as the "far left" option." I thought Peña Nieto might be unstoppable ( But a lot has changed in the last three weeks, and it probably doesn't cheer the PRI frontrunner.

A Consulta Mitofsky poll reported two days ago (Jan. 24) shows that Peña Nieto's lead has slipped eight points to 41%. Josefina Vázquez Mota, the presumptive National Action Party (PAN) nominee, was the favorite of 23% of survey respondents, and López Obrador (above), standard bearer of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), received 18% support. The big news plainly was Peña Nieto's unexpected and inexplicable slide.

In the internal PAN contest, there is little doubt that Vázquez Mota really is unbeatable. The same Mitofsky poll showed her with 60% support, compared to Santiago Creel with 26% and the hapless Ernesto Cordero, far down in third place, with just 10%. The PAN primary is February 5. Cordero, a former secretary of the Hacienda in the Felipe Calderón administration, is purportedly the latter's choice, which rather surprises me. Vázquez Mota, who also served Calderón as a secretary of Education, has infinitely more charisma than Cordero, and all polls consistently indicate than she is the only PAN candidate who could give Peña Nieto a real run for his money. Mota's continued climb within her own party is consistent (, and is one reason she doesn't want to waste time debating her PAN primary opponents. She doesn't need to.

National Independent Poll
There is yet another poll which aficionados of Mexican politics will want to note as well. It was reported yesterday in a Yucatán state newspaper, and it's called the Independent National Presidential Poll. The private survey of 1,000 respondents was designed and administered by academics at a Mexican university. It was taken January 5-8, and was particularly targeted at unaffiliated voters -- not flag wavers or party stalwarts of PRI, PAN or PRD (this was accomplished by random residential telephoning, rather than calls to lists of party supporters). It showed Andrés Manuel López Obrador in an easy first place with 41.7% support, Enrique Peña Nieto in second place with 34.18% and Josefina Vázquez Mota in third place with 24.12%.

But there are some important footnotes to the independent poll. First, only 67% -- 670 people -- responded that they had definitely made up their minds. The remaining 33% either refused to disclose their preference or said that they had not yet decided for whom they would vote; in fact, half of the 33% said they were still fence-straddling. Still, the results are intriguing, particularly since the PRD candidate lost Mexico's 2006 presidential election to Felipe Calderón by one half of one percent -- the closest in the nation's history. On December 17 I wrote, in reference to López Obrador, "A July 2012 Big Surprise is not impossible" ( The same poll will be retaken monthly until the election.

Who will be Mexico's next president? Stay tuned until July 1.

Is López Obrador Robin Hood in disguise?:

None of these candidates are any good, says Mexican literary giant:

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