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Pollster María de las Heras, who died of cancer Tuesday at 53, came in for praise for the accuracy of her polling work in the 2012 and 2000 elections.
Excélsior columnist Leo Zuckermann said that while other pollsters questioned her methods, which involved making unspecified adjustments to the polling data she gathered, those methods often provided accurate results. Zuckermann said she was one of the few pollsters who publicly predicted Vicente Fox's win in the 2000 presidential election. He rated her as this year's No. 1 pollster in an article in this month's Nexos: Her last poll said the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto would get 40% and he got 33%, and said populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador would get 33% and he got 32%. Proceso said she predicted a PRI victory of 7.8 points, whereas other pollsters predicted one of double digits; the final margin was 6.6 points.
However, she did not do so well in the 2006 election; her final poll had López Obrador winning by 5 points, but he lost by less than a percentage point.
Milenio reported that she tried to remedy her mistake by coming up a with a model that would account for people who told pollsters they were going to vote for one candidate when they actually wound up voting for another.
Zuckermann said de las Heras started polling for the PRI when Luis Donaldo Colosio was the party's president. Zuckermann said Colosio realized that the PRI, after the relatively close 1988 presidential election and after losing the Baja California governor's race to the PAN, needed a better understanding of public opinion. Zuckermann's column (PDF).
Pollster Roy Campos sings her praises in Milenio, and says she played the guitar, too.
Her husband, César Augusto Santiago, is a federal deputy for the PRI. She also is survived by a son, Rodrigo Galván.
On Twitter, she defined herself as “Encuestadora de oficio, comentarista de radio por afición y tequilera por diversión” — Pollster by trade, radio commentator as a pastime, and tequila drinker for fun.
Sounds like we should all levantar los codos and drink a tequila in her honor.