Eric L. Olson, The Mexico Institute, 6/18/2012
With mere days before Mexico’s July 1st federal election the country of 114 million, with roughly 77 million eligible voters, is on the cusp of deciding what direction it will take for the next six years and possibly beyond. An election that just weeks ago appeared settled with a clear frontrunner and little movement in the polls has more recently reflected new dynamics in the race and added an element of uncertainty.
In this context, undecided voters, those on the sidelines and the previously uninvolved have begun to shift election dynamics. The election has effectively gone from a boring and predictable affair with the only remaining question the margin of victory, to one in which the final election outcome may not be clear, with a modicum of uncertainty injected into the process. The remaining question is whether momentum and passion will swing decisively to AMLO or Vázquez Mota enabling either to overcome the vaunted organizational capacity of the PRI and Peña Nieto’s commanding lead in the polls.
Whether AMLO or Vázquez Mota emerges as the primary alternative to Peña Nieto will depend in large part on the “second choice preferences” of each candidate’s supporters. Possibly the biggest challenge for both will be to convince voters to support them as the best alternative to Peña Nieto when their candidate no longer seems violable. For example, if PAN supporters decide their candidate cannot win, will they vote for Peña Nieto to ensure that the country does not move to the left with AMLO, or will they vote for AMLO because of their historic antipathy to the PRI and refusal to return power to the party they defeated in 2000. Most polls suggest that PAN voters lean to the PRI as their second choice, and a recent statement from former President Vicente Fox, the first one to defeat the PRI, seemed to call on PAN sympathizers to support the PRI over the PRD and AMLO.