Local polls published Wednesday report that Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has a lead of between 10 and 17 percentage points over his opponents. An El Universal poll released yesterday shows Peña Nieto of the opposition Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) with 41.2 percent of the popular vote, up 4.2 percentage points from a poll published on June 18.
The poll found Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD) receiving 23.8 percent of the vote, and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the incumbent Partido de Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) in third place with 20.6 percent. Two other polls published on Wednesday gave Peña Nieto a lead of between 10 and 16 percentage points over runner-up López Obrador.
As the campaigning period has come to an end, the numbers indicate that the PRI candidate will win this Sunday’s awaited election, reinstating his party’s power over the presidency. The PRI ruled Mexico for 70 years until the year 2000, when Vicente Fox of the PAN was elected.
For Peña Nieto, the PRI has never left. “It has lost and won, it competed in democracy and understood change” he stated. At the same time, Peña Nieto has tried to distance himself from the PRI's past legacy, saying, "There is a new PRI," and promising bold steps such as boosting outside oil exploration and pledging a tax overhaul.
Mexico's middle class will have a defining role on this Sunday’s election, with a large share of them (37 percent) favoring Peña Nieto. Mexican workers are demanding higher salaries and better living standards. Though this was the same group of voters that elected Fox in 2000 to end the PRI’s political hegemony, they may now punish the PAN for its inability to restore the economy and end the war on drugs.