Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 6/14/2012
We will have to wait until next week to see the full impact of the June 10 presidential debate on opinion polls, but one available poll suggests that it was marginal: frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) has kept his lead and the other candidates maintained the same support.
In Milenio/GEA-ISA’s new poll, which was carried out between June 11 and June 13, Peña Nieto’s support remained fairly steady before and after the debate: he had 44.5 percent of the effective vote (excluding undecided voters) on June 10 and 44.8 percent on June 13. This represents a lead of 16.7 percent over Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD).
The PRD candidate had 28.1 percent on the same dates, while Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN) maintained 24.3 percent. Support for the fourth candidate, Gabriel Quadri (PANAL) dropped slightly from 3.1 to 2.8 percent.
The short-term vs. long-term impact
Interestingly, there was movement in the polls immediately after the debate. The day after the debate, Peña Nieto dropped 0.4 percent over the previous day, López Obrador fell 1.1 percent, Vázquez Mota gained two percent, and Quadri dropped half a percent. These figures seemed to reflect the predominant strategies during the debate (see our analysis). The trailing candidates did not center their attacks on Peña Nieto, and instead seemed to be competing for the second-place position. Vázquez Mota criticized López Obrador for embodying Mexico’s intolerant and populist past, and stressed that a vote for Quadri would empower the party founder and controversial head of the teachers’ union, Elba Esther Gordillo. Some voters seemed to agree with Vázquez Mota immediately after the debate, but two days later, the candidates fell back to their pre-debate standings. The long-term impact of the debate, according to this poll, was minimal.
Other polls from immediately before the debate reveal a similar landscape. In a Parametría poll, conducted between June 5 and June 9, Peña Nieto held steady at 43 percent and López Obrador at 30 percent over the previous week, while Vázquez Mota dropped one percentage point to 23 and Quadri gained one point to four percent. Peña Nieto’s lead was 13 percent.
In Mitofsky’s most recent poll, conducted between June 8 and June 10, the results were unchanged over the previous week as well. Peña Nieto stayed at 44 percent, López Obrador at 29 percent, Vázquez Mota at 25 percent, and Quadri at two percent. The frontrunner’s advantage stayed at 15 percent.
If the Milenio/GEA-ISA poll is correct that voter preferences did not move permanently after debate, these polls from last week from Parametría and Mitofsky may approximate the current standings.