Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 6/25/2012
Less than a week remains before the July 1 election: Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI-PVEM) leads by a steady 12 to 16 percent and his party looks likely to claim up to five of the current gubernatorial races. New studies suggest this support is largely due to economic voting, not security concerns, and the candidates and their foreign policy advisors address their policy positions in two sessions.
In the most recent polls, Peña Nieto continues to lead by 12 to 16 percent among intended voters. As we discussed on June 21 in our weekly poll wrap-up, all but one poll finds Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD-PT-MC) in second place and Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN) in third, with two to four percentage points between them. Gabriel Quadri (PANAL) polls at two to four percent.
Business Week (June 21) and the Mexico Institute’s Senior Advisor Duncan Wood in BBC News (June 11) argue that stagnant wages and other economic difficulties in Mexico may be driving support for the PRI. This concurs with a new poll on attitudes about the fight against organized crime, published June 20 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which found that most voters do not believe that the PRI offers the best solution to the country’s security challenges:
“Asked which political party could do a better job of dealing with organized crime and drug traffickers, two of the three major parties received almost equal support. Calderón’s National Action Party, or PAN, led with 28 percent; front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had 25 percent; and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, scored only 13 percent.
The findings refute the assumption that Mexicans prefer the PRI to win because they can return to the old ways of doing business with criminals.
For an excellent overview of the electoral landscape, see the June 18 report by Mexico Institute Associate Director Eric L. Olson.
There are seven important concurrent races at the subnational level on July 1, including six governorships and the mayoral race in Mexico City: continuity is expected in four of these. The Mexico City government will likely remain PRD: Miguel Ángel Mancera, the party’s candidate and city’s former attorney general, currently draws 70.5 percent of the effective vote. Guanajuato looks like a safe race for the ruling PAN and Tabasco and Yucatán seem likely to stay with the incumbent PRI.
However, races in the three other states may result in PRI gains. The PAN polls in third place in two states it currently governs: the PRI is ahead in Jalisco, which the PAN has held since 1995, and is in a close race with the PRD in Moreles, which the PAN has governed since 2000. Chiapas, which elected a PRD governor in 2006, looks likely to bring back a PRI government.
The presidential candidates, except for frontrunner Peña Nieto, participated in an online debate convened by the “I am 132” student movement on June 19. The candidates focused on their main talking points. López Obrador reiterated that he represents the opportunity for “true change” in Mexico, while Vázquez Mota stressed that voters must choose between the authoritarianism of the past that the PRI and PRD represent and the stability and continuity that she represents. Quadri, who with just two to four percent support in the polls has virtually no chance of winning, spent his time noting the points of consensus: collaboration, he argued, is what Mexico needs. You can see more of their comments on our Twitter feed from June 19, where we live-tweeted the debate.
Peña Nieto declined the invitation: while acknowledging the group’s contribution to Mexican democracy, he noted that the movement has “officially taken a political position against my project and my person” and was therefore not a neutral space.
The foreign policy advisors for the three main candidates, however, did participate in a June 18 conference at the Mexico Institute. The debate, moderated by Léon Krauze, anchor of Univisión’s KMEX 34 in Los Angeles, covered security and economic cooperation with the United States, energy reform, relations with Central America, and the likelihood of fraud in the upcoming elections. For more information, you can watch the video or read our Tweets from the June 18 event.