La Profesora AbstraÃda, Michelle Dion, has a handy overview of the Mexican presidential candidates. The election is in early July. What does the recent polling say, and what might the congress look like for whoever wins?
According to a poll by ANSA released on Nov. 7:
LÃ³pez Obrador (“AMLO”) (PRD): 39
Madrazo (PRI): 29
CalderÃ³n (PRD): 25
Looks like a 3-way race. Or no race at all, depending on how one looks at it.
The real race right now is for second place, and CalderÃ³n, who was just nominated, looks like a much stronger candidate than Santiago Creel, who had been considered the front-runner for the PAN’s nomination until recently. If CalderÃ³n can pull ahead of Madrazo, I could see it developing into a two-way race between the PAN and PRD, pushing the PRI into into 25-percent territory. The PRI is a much stronger party than that, but Madrazo is such a “dinosaur” that he is likely to be a good deal weaker than his party. How much will he drag down the PRI vote in congressional races? That will be interesting to watch, if he does not move well up into the 30s in polls before the election.
Madrazo’s best hope is for something to happen to dent AMLO’s lead late in the campaign, resulting in a situation in which it is not clear who is the strongest anti-PRI challenger. Then you could see Madrazo win with a third of the vote, and that’s really his only hope.
Otherwise, it’s going to look a lot like 2000: The candidate most likely to block renewed (in 2000, it was continued) PRI rule will pull ahead, win with 40%+ of the vote, and the other will finish far behind the PRI. The only difference is it looks like the PRD will be in that role this time instead of the PAN. (In 2000, the presidential race was Fox 43.4, and the candidates of the PRI and PRD at 36.9 and 17.0, respectively.)
This strikes me as a really good thing for Mexico: Any of the three parties can win the presidency. The PRI would be a lot more competitive with a more “modernizing” candidate than Madrazo, and his defeat would probably signal the end of the dinosaur wing of the party in presidential nomination politics. Moreover, any two of them can form a legislative majority. A majority for any party in either house is really unlikely, and AMLO is likely to have the weakest legisaltive coattails, given how comparatively weak his party is outside the Mexico City region.
A poll by Reforma (reported November 8 in Informe Latinoamericano) that specifically asked about congressional vote intention had the parties as follows:
In reality, the presidential and congressional votes are unlikely to be as divergent as these two separate polls imply. But 2000 already suggested that Mexican voters are willing to split tickets to some degree (the Chamber vote in 2000 was PAN 38.2, PRI 36.9, PRD 18.7, with the PRD and PAN totals actually including some minor affiliated parties that presented joint candidacies with the bigger party).
The way the Senate is elected, the PRI is unlikely to have less than 40% of that body and the PRD is unlikely to have even 1/3 even if AMLO does win 40%+ of the vote and with good coattails. In the Chamber, there is a slight seat-allocation bias in favor of the party that wins the most of the 300 single-seat plurality races (the other 200 seats are allocated proportionally). That party is likely to remain the PRI.
An AMLO presidency with under 1/3 of the seast in either house and facing a still-strong PRI in congress would be interesting, to say the least.