Leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has increased his longstanding lead over his rivals while the ruling party’s candidate has moved into second place, according to a new opinion poll.
The national survey conducted by the newspaper El Financiero between March 9 and 14 and published today shows that support for the candidate widely known as AMLO increased by four points to 42% since its previous poll last month.
That gives the former Mexico City mayor and third-time presidential aspirant an 18-point lead over his nearest adversary, well up from his previous 11-point advantage.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate, José Antonio Meade, also increased his popularity among voters, rising two points to 24%.
That level of support allowed the former finance secretary to narrowly edge out the third major party candidate, Ricardo Anaya, for whom 23% of the poll’s 1,200 respondents said they intended to vote.
However, because the poll’s 2.8% margin of error is greater than the difference in support between Meade and Anaya, El Financiero said the two candidates are in a statistical tie for second place.
Anaya, the candidate for the coalition “For Mexico in Front,” dropped four points since the last poll, indicating that he might have been hurt by accusations of benefiting from a possible money laundering scheme related to a real estate transaction in Anaya’s home state of Querétaro.
The former National Action Party (PAN) president and at 39 the youngest candidate in the field has firmly denied the claims.
The allegations of wrongdoing damaged his support among voters, El Financiero said, adding that López Obrador seemed to be the main beneficiary of Anaya’s losses.
News agency Reuters said increased support for López Obrador was due to widespread discontent over corruption scandals that have plagued the PRI, the government’s failure to combat rising levels of violent crime and slow economic growth.
However, the widening of his lead also comes amid concerns from the business community about the frontrunner’s economic plans, including a promise to cancel the new Mexico City International Airport project and threats to wind back the government’s energy reforms.
Despite the leftist’s imposing lead, there is considerable wriggle room for the two other major party candidates to close the gap.
The El Financiero poll excluded 30% of respondents who said they had no preference while a total of 38% said they were still undecided.
A further 17% said they had an idea of who they would vote for but may change their mind before election day. Only 42% said they had decided definitively.
While the three leading candidates all appear to have a chance of becoming Mexico’s next president, the possibility that an independent could take the top job seems negligible.
The National Electoral Institute (INE) said last week that only Margarita Zavala collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, but she only garnered 7% support in the El Financiero poll, unchanged from the last one.
Jaime Rodríguez, often referred to as “El Bronco,” dropped one point to just 2% support but it appears unlikely he will win a place in the race, although he has challenged the INE ruling,
The survey also indicated that López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) is on track to win the largest number of seats of any party in the two houses of Congress, polling 34% support in preferences for both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
The PRI was in second place with 23% and 22% support in the respective houses, while the PAN came in third with 19% and 20%.
The formal campaign will start Friday, March 30 and voters will go to the polls on July 1.