Leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has extended his lead over his nearest rival to 14 points, according to a new opinion survey conducted by the polling company Parametria.
But another poll conducted the same week, while giving López Obrador the lead, puts him just six points ahead of the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate.
The leader of the National Regeneration Movement, or Morena party, garnered 35% support among the 800 voters who were surveyed last week.
Ricardo Anaya of the right-left coalition “For Mexico in Front” took second place with 21%.
Support for López Obrador, or AMLO as he is widely known, is up one point from the 34% backing he attracted in a poll by the same company a month earlier. In contrast, the percentage of people who said they would vote for Anaya decreased by two points.
The net effect is a widening of the gap between the two presidential hopefuls by three points from 11% to 14%.
The candidate for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), José Antonio Meade, remains in third place.
The former finance secretary lost support for the second month in a row, sliding to 16% from 18% in the previous poll.
Meade and Anaya have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks, with each candidate claiming that the other is guilty of corruption. López Obrador, who has refused to be drawn into the feud, seems to have benefited from the dispute.
Anaya has been caught up in a federal investigation into possible money laundering involving the purchase and sale of land he owned in Querétaro. Meade has accused his rival of illicit enrichment but Anaya denies any wrongdoing.
In response, Anaya pointed to irregularities detected by the Federal Auditor’s Office in the accounts of the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol).
The candidate’s campaign team charges that some of the embezzlement of millions of dollars’ worth of public funds occurred while Meade headed up Sedesol from August 2015 to September 2016. The latter also denies the allegations.
The attempted smearing was intensifying when the poll was taken and, according to Parametria founder Francisco Abundis, weighed on the minds of voters.
“The fight for second place is damaging them both. For citizens, these disputes are very tiring,” he told the news agency Reuters.
Former first lady Margarita Zavala fared best of the three independent candidates in the Parametria poll, surging to 10% support while the maverick, currently on-leave governor of Nuevo León, Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez, had 5%.
But according to another larger opinion poll, the race for the presidency is much tighter than the Parametria poll suggests and the positions of Meade and Anaya are reversed.
In a survey commissioned by the newspaper 24 Horas and conducted by the company Pauta Encuesta during the same week as the Parametria poll, López Obrador also came out on top with 34% of the vote.
However, that figure only gave him a six-point lead over Meade who had 28% support among the 4,850 respondents. Anaya garnered 25% support.
Interestingly, 45% of voters surveyed said that Meade was the “best-prepared” candidate for the job followed by Anaya with 42%.
Just 3% of respondents said that López Obrador was the best-prepared candidate although paradoxically 30% said that they would like him to win.
The 24 horas poll is reflective of a recent statement from political risk analysts at Eurasia Group who said that the race will likely become more competitive between the two front runners.
Jockeying for that number-two position between Anaya and Meade, that would perhaps put either within striking distance of López Obrador, is well and truly under way.
The official campaign period starts on March 30, the first debate will be held in Mexico City on April 22 and voters will go to the polls on July 1.