Several Polls Show Center-Left Candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with Lead over Two Closest Rivals

Article excerpt

Public-opinion polls have become the centerpiece of Mexico's presidential campaign, with polling companies differing on the margin by which former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is leading his two closest rivals. Lopez Obrador will represent the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) in the July 2, 2006, election, facing Felipe Calderon Hinojosa of the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) and Roberto Madrazo Pintado of the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).

Six of seven polls published during November show support for Lopez Obrador in a range between 29% and 35%, with a seventh poll showing the former Mexico City mayor with as much as 37% of voter preferences. Three of the polls were conducted or commissioned by Mexico City-based daily newspapers, including La Crisis, Reforma, and El Universal.

In contrast, support for Calderon and Madrazo varies widely, with the two candidates vying for second place in voter preferences. Madrazo was second in voter preferences in five of the seven polls, although the lead was only by a few percentage points, creating a statistical dead heat.

In some polls, such as those conducted by Consulta Mitofsky and Reforma, Madrazo and Calderon were within a few points of Lopez Obrador, also creating a statistical dead heat.

In some polls, the candidate of the Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano (PVEM), Bernardo de la Garza Herrera, obtained 6% to 8% of voter preferences, taking support away primarily from the PRI and PAN candidates. De la Garza has gained strong name recognition because his party has spent large sums on radio and television spots.

Following are the poll results released during November, listed in alphabetical order of polling company or entity:

Beltran y Asociados (BGC): Lopez Obrador, 33%; Madrazo, 30%, Calderon, 28%; De la Garza, 8%

Consulta Mitofsky: Lopez Obrador, 34.8%; Madrazo, 30.4%, Calderon, 28.8%; De la Garza, 6%

Grupo Bimsa: Lopez Obrador, 35%; Madrazo, 30%, Calderon, 27%; De la Garza, 6%

Instituto de Mercadotecnia y Opinion (IMO): Lopez Obrador, 37.2%; Calderon, 18.8%; Madrazo, 18%.

El Universal: Lopez Obrador, 34%; Calderon, 22%, Madrazo, 18%

La Crisis: Lopez Obrador, 33.7%; Madrazo, 28.5%, Calderon, 23.9%

Reforma: Lopez Obrador, 29%; Calderon, 28%; Madrazo, 21%

Analysts cautioned against reading too much into the poll numbers because of the differences in the population sampled, the way questions were posed, and the content of the polls.

In an editorial, La Crisis emphasized that public-opinion surveys should not be used to predict the results of an election. "The polls are only an indication to the candidates about their standing among the public," said La Crisis.

Candidates put own spin on polls

Still, the various political parties rushed to place their spin on the poll results, with the PAN citing the Reforma figures as a sign that the race is tightening and the PRD pointing to the IMO poll as the more accurate measure of voter sentiment.

Both the PAN and the PRI also highlighted the gradual erosion of Lopez Obrador's support during the last several months. The former Mexico City mayor, often known by his initials AMLO, at one time enjoyed support of close to 45%, partly a result of the effort to oust him from office earlier this year on a trumped-up charge of violating the Mexican Constitution. Most Mexicans saw that effort as an unfair maneuver by President Vicente Fox's administration and congressional members of the PRI and the PAN to keep Lopez Obrador off the ballot, adding to Lopez Obrador's popularity in the polls at that time (see SourceMex, 2005-04-13).

Calderon used the recent polls to boldly dismiss Madrazo's chances in the election. "The July 2 election is turning into a race between two contenders," said Calderon, in reference to Lopez Obrador and himself. …