Tuesday, March 5, 2024

What is President López Obrador’s approval rating at the 5-year mark?

President López Obrador has completed his fifth year in office with an approval rating of 56%, according to the results of a recent poll.

AMLO, as the president is best known, celebrated the fifth anniversary of his presidency last Friday, and now has just 10 months left in Mexico’s top job.

The opening of the Tulum airport and the announcement that Mexico’s minimum wage will increase by 20% on Jan. 1 gave him ample cause for celebration on Friday — exactly 1,825 days after he was sworn in for his (almost) six-year term as president.

The results of El Financiero newspaper’s most recent poll, conducted over a period of five days last month, show only minimal changes in AMLO’s popularity compared to the findings of previous ones.

The 56% approval/44% disapproval breakdown is almost identical to the 56%/43% split recorded in October.

AMLO has maintained an approval rating above 50% throughout his presidency, and enjoyed support of over 60% during his first two full years in office — even as the coronavirus pandemic claimed well over 100,000 lives and crippled the economy in 2020.

AMLO in a suit in his office, presses a thermometer to his head and looks into the camera
AMLO holds a thermometer as he announces his second positive test for Covid-19, which he has had three times as president. (Presidencia)

He had an approval rating of 54% in January, before recording a 2023-high of 58% in four separate months this year, according to El Financiero poll results.

The latest poll, in which 1,000 adults across Mexico were surveyed, found slightly higher support for López Obrador among women, 57% of whom said they approved of his work as president. That was three percentage points higher than the 54% approval rating among Mexican men.

The poll also found that support for AMLO is highest among citizens aged 50 years and older, with 69% of that cohort saying they approved of the president’s performance, compared to just 41% among those aged 30 to 49. López Obrador’s approval rating among adults younger than 30 was a solid 60%.

His overall approval rating of 56% is somewhat curious as it is much higher than the positive evaluation percentages his administration obtained in three of four key areas of governance assessed by El Financiero.

An elderly woman displays her pension card and Welfare Ministry paperwork for the camera
An elderly woman displays her pension card and Welfare Ministry paperwork. The program that has expanded during López-Obrador’s administration, a possible factor in his high approval ratings among citizens over 50. (X/Bienestarmx)

Only 24% of poll respondents said that the federal government is doing a very good or good job on public security, while 35% said the same with regard to the fight against corruption and 36% viewed his economic management in a favorable light.

Homicides, it should be noted, have declined this year compared to 2022, but López Obrador’s term in government is already the most violent on record.

The Mexican economy recorded stronger-than-expected growth in the first nine months of the year, but some observers believe that GDP could be growing at a faster rate if Mexico capitalized more fully on the nearshoring opportunity.

The government’s performance in combating corruption is harder to measure objectively, but studies indicate that progress has not been as significant as López Obrador claims.

The only area in which there were more poll respondents who rated the government favorably than unfavorably was “social support,” which includes welfare payments and employments schemes such as the Sowing Life reforestation program and the Youths Building the Future apprenticeship initiative.

Just over half of those polled — 51% — said that the government is doing a very good or good job in the area, compared to 30% who said the opposite. The remainder didn’t offer an opinion one way or the other.

AMLO, standing on a hillside planted with tree saplings, shakes hands with a man in a cowboy hat and jeans
The president visits with the Sembrando Vida tree-planting program participants in Chiapas in 2019. (Presidencia)

Asked about the president’s personal attributes, 58% assessed him positively for honesty and leadership, but only 42% commended him on his ability to deliver results.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said that López Obrador has achieved a “transformation” of Mexico in his five years in office — as the president himself asserts has occurred — while 52% described his administration as a “success.”

In contrast, 37% of those polled said that the current federal government has been a “failure” and 36% described it as a “disappointment.”

Although López Obrador frequently asserts that the achievements of his government are many, he identifies poverty reduction as the “most important” one, ahead of things such as infrastructure construction and the purported elimination of corruption.

“No government was able to reduce inequality like we’re doing,” he said last week.

Data published by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy in August showed that the number of Mexicans living in poverty declined by 8.9 million between 2020 and 2022, falling to 46.8 million in the latter year.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the frontrunner to succeed López Obrador as president, is pledging to perpetuate the “transformation” process initiated by the current government, while opposition hopeful Xóchitl Gálvez has emphasized her commitment to maintaining current social and welfare programs.

AMLO will likely hand over the presidential sash to one of those two women on Oct. 1, 2024, four months after the June 2 election. A third presidential aspirant, Nuevo León Governor Samuel García, has withdrawn from the contest amid political chaos in his home state.

With reports from El Financiero 

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