Originally published at Latino Decisions.
SAN DIEGO, CA — With eight weeks to go to Mexico’s pivotal presidential election in July —and two weeks before the historic candidates debate to be held in neighboring Tijuana— University of California researchers today released findings of a poll taken among U.S.-based potential voters. “External voting” in Mexico’s elections is expected to reach record levels this year, due to a major expansion of registration from abroad. The poll found that the front-runner in Mexico, leftist, third-time candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also enjoys a big lead among voting-age Mexican nationals residing in the U.S., especially among those registered to vote by mail. The findings indicate a demand for change in Mexico —and may also be a reaction to the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S.— even as a large proportion of potential voters remains undecided among the five candidates on the ballot.
López Obrador, known by his initials AMLO, has held a double-digit lead all year in Mexico over second-place candidate Ricardo Anaya, conservative head of a right-left coalition. AMLO, a former mayor of Mexico City, leads a new party of the left in coalition with two minor parties. In third place in Mexico is José Antonio Meade of the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI, but he fell to fourth in this survey of U.S.-based voters. Among all those surveyed, the poll found 29% support for AMLO, to just 6% for Anaya, 5.5% for former first lady Margarita Zavala, who is running as an independent, 3% for Meade, and 33% undecided. The survey was conducted by Latino Decisions prior to the first presidential candidates debate, held on April 22 in Mexico City and widely broadcast on U.S. Spanish-language television.
Support for Lopez Obrador was found to be even stronger among those in the survey who indicated they were registered to vote from abroad: 40% for AMLO, 8% for Anaya, 7% for Zavala and 4% for Meade.
The UCSD Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies and Latino Decisions will hold a bilingual briefing for media on Friday, May 18, at which further poll findings and analysis will be presented. The candidates will gather for a second debate —the only one with a live audience— on Sunday May 20 at the Tijuana campus of the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC).
Latino Decisions interviewed 662 Mexican-American adults nationwide who were eligible to vote in the Mexican presidential election in July 2018. Respondents were screened to determine if they were born in Mexico, or had at least one parent born in Mexico, making them eligible to register to vote. Interviews were bilingual, giving respondents the option to complete the survey in either Spanish or English, at their preference. Overall the survey carries a margin of error of +/- 3.8% and was implemented from April 15-21, 2018. The survey was in collaboration with Professors Adrián Félix (UC Santa Cruz), Raul Hinojosa (UCLA), and Rafael Fernández de Castro (UC San Diego), all leading experts who study U.S.-Mexico relations and the politics of Mexico.
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