By Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute, 8/2/2011
Reforma’s two new polls present an interesting picture of where Mexico is today and where it may be headed in the next election cycle.
- In the first poll (below), the growing optimism in the economy and direction of the country and the approval of President Calderon is remarkable. These are not Lula numbers, of course, but they are surprisingly positive after all that Mexico has been through with the twin blows of the economic crisis and the rising violence, which had severely undermined Calderon’s approval. Undoubtedly these numbers reflect, above all, the recovery of the economy, which has been growing at 4-5%, as well as the partial leveling-out of the violence (it is, actually, still increasing, but much, much more slowly than before). Whether these trends hold will almost certainly affect Mexicans’ level of optimism going into the elections next year.
- The second poll on presidential candidates (below) confirms what we already know: Enrique Pena Nieto and the PRI are far ahead of the other two parties, enough so that if the trend does not reverse, the PRI could win a majority of seats in Congress. The PAN is in second place as a party, but it is less clear if it can keep that position. Ernesto Cordero, largely believed to be President Calderon’s preferred candidate, seems to be gaining little ground, while Josefina Vazquez Mota has reached the same level of support as front-runner Santiago Creel (and seems to benefit every time another PAN candidate drops out). In the PRD, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador remains far ahead of Marcelo Ebrard both among party members and sympathizers as well as in the public in general, but his high negative numbers suggest that Ebrard (who has low negatives) may have more upside in a general election if he can position himself effectively in the public mind, something he has yet to do.
What is perhaps most remarkable, taking the two polls together, is that the increasing optimism has not changed voters’ preferences in next year’s elections yet. The PAN seems unable to capitalize on this change, and the PRI does well whether citizens are optimistic or pessimistic. It is worth watching how this evolves.