From dusk to dawn… EPN sinks, AMLO rises (again)
If Time Magazine’s 24 February 2014 cover was a joke in Mexico when it was published, by now it must rank with the Chicago Tribune’s “Dewey Beats Truman!” headline as one of the greatest examples of wishful thinking over-riding good journalism in history. The assumption that Peña Nieto — having (with the assistance of a few million supermarket cash cards) eked out a victory over AMLO was going to “save Mexico” from its problems with corruption, crime, and economic malaise might have been the occasion for some black humor then (especially on the left), but are no joking matter now.
Two polls over the weekend, from Encuestras Grupo Reforma demonstrate just how much Peña Nieto has failed in “saving Mexico” and how much support AMLO is garnering… even now, three years before the next Presidential election.
On Friday, Alejandro Moreno and Rodrigo León informed us that, according to the polls, Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval rating had fallen another four points (to 34%) following Chapo Guzmán’s “escape”. While that’s not surprising given that in respect to his handling of the Chapo affair, a whopping 87% of citizens rate his government’s response as “bad”, what is really a shock is that among Mexican elites, Peña Neito’s approval rating overall is only 15%.
None… and we mean absolutely none… of Peña Nieto’s “reforms” have met with citizen approval, and, among the leadership, his approval rating in these areas is downright dismal. When it comes to “corruption”, the administration’s approval rating of how it handles the problem is only 3 percent… perhaps the one percenters benefitting from corruption and a few hangers on?
With such low favorability ratings, and wide-spread rejection of the government, is it any wonder that the president’s party support is also at an all-time low? A Sunday poll (a bit early considering the presidential election is three years away) showing AMLO as leading the pack, also shows that likely PRI support is only 18%. Normally (or, as normal as can be when the whole tri-party system is only a few election cycles old) PRI would be at least twice that high, with PAN trailing by a few percentage points. As it is, the three traditional main parties are all much lower than one would expect. PAN also is at 18%, with PRD (normally about 15 to 20%) likewise at only half its minimal “normal” level: 7 %.
MORENA, which didn’t even exist until this election, is the third place party, with 14% of likely voters. What makes that interesting is that MORENA is López Obrador’s party, but as a potential candidate, he’s the first choice of a full 25 to 30% of voters, and the likely winner of the 2018 elections, given any one of five potential scenarios.
Among “normal” voters, AMLO is an overwhelming favorite.
Margarita Zavala … Mrs. Felipe Calderón… who comes is second, is assumed to be a likely candidate in 2018, either for PAN or as an independent. She’s much more the favorite of the elites, but then, she doesn’t seem to make a name outside of the political elites, and — as she becomes known, may or may not poll higher.
I wonder about the choices of those “lideres”. It’s assumed AMLO, as a “populist” won’t appeal to the elites (and makes it his business to attack them), so would poll fairly low among them. Jaime Rodriquez, the independent governor of Nuevo Leon is too new a phenomenon for the voters to assess, but the “shock” to the elites of an outside candidate winning a major state has made them consider the very real possibility of an independent presidential candidate. Which leads to a second issue I have with the poll… the five scenarios presented to voters on possible 2018 candidates (all of which would make a quarter of the vote for AMLO a near-certain victory) all presume there will be an independent running for President, and that there will be five candidates. While that is possible, and I think it is likely that AMLO would receive the backing of more than MORENA (Citizens’ Movement and/or PRD and/or Nueva Alianza), there could be fewer or more candidates. While PAN’s last presidential candidate was also a woman, and a Calderónista — whether Zavela´s gender and close association with the now discredited Felipe Calderón helps or hurts, I can’t say. While Mexico “beat” the United States when it came to major parties nominating a woman for the Presidency, should Hillary Clinton (like Zavela, the spouse of a former president), become the “leader of the free world”, there could be a swell in support for her. And it is possible — something I think VERY possible — that Peña Nieto resigns for one reason or another. An internal president serving out the rest of the term who is minimally competent, could improve PRI’s standing. Or, at the very least, as happened when Emilio Portes Gil had to fill in for the assassinated Álvaro Obregón, the interim president could see it as his role to guarantee the party’s chosen leader is the winner in the regular election. On the other hand, an interim president being ineligible to ever hold the presidency again (even if his or her term was only a few months), it could take one of the potential candidates out of the running for 2018.
And… of course… this assumes the voters would actually get to chose the winner and we wouldn’t have another 1988 or 2006 (or 2012?) election when … well, let’s just say… strings were pulled… to prevent a left-wing victory.