A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Baja California polls show López Obrador tied or ahead of Peña Nieto, with Vázquez Mota in third

Can polls be trusted? 3 separate surveys all have different parties leading in state's Senate race

Frontera newspaper columnist Cosme Collignon reported that the May 28-June 1 Testa Marketing poll has populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a tie with the Institutional Revolutionary Party's Enrique Peña Nieto in the July 1 presidential race in Baja California, a traditional National Action Party stronghold. The poll had both with 29%, the PAN's Josefina Vázquez Mota at 27% and New Alliance's Gabriel Quadri with 5%. See Table 3 below.

A Zeta poll published June 1 put López Obrador in the lead with 39%, Peña Nieto second with 29% and Vázquez Mota third with 21%. The poll seemed suspect because it had leftist candidates leading in a number of congressional races; the Democratic Revolution Party has never done well in such races in Baja California. The Zeta poll also was dramatically skewed toward male voters.

Six years ago, López Obrador finished second in the presidential race in Baja California and helped the left-of-center Senate ticket come relatively close to the second-place Senate ticket led by the PRI's Fernando Castro Trenti. The PAN ticket was the overall winner, and Baja California sent two PAN senators and the PRI's Castro Trenti to Mexico City.

Three polls published recently all show different candidates leading in this year's Baja California Senate race, so it is unclear how accurate any of the surveys are. Testa has the PAN ticket led by Ernesto Ruffo Appel with 28%, the PRI ticket led by Eligio Valencia Roque at 26%, the leftist ticket led by broadcaster Marco Antonio Blásquez at 23%, and the New Alliance at 5% and the Green Party at 1%. The Zeta poll had the PRD at 30% and the PAN and PRI tickets both at 26%. Meanwhile, an Explora Investigación Estratégica poll published in El Mexicano had the PRI ticket leading with 33%, the PAN with 27% and the leftist ticket at 20%. The PRI candidate is the director of El Mexicano. See Table 4 below. Explora Investigación Estratégica's poll (PDF) has the PRI coalition leading in seven of eight races for the federal Chamber of Deputies, with the PAN leading in District 2.

Baja California has a history of vote swings in presidential and state elections, and continuing large-scale migration to the state means that politicians have to be continually making efforts to define themselves to the changing electorate. In 1988, the state went for leftist candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in what was seen as a repudiation of the autocratic PRI's corrupt practices, but swung back to the PRI in 1994 in what was seen as a vote for stability following the assassination of PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in Tijuana. In 2000 the state went heavily for the PAN's Vicente Fox, who ended the PRI's 71-year hold on the presidency, and in 2006 it went heavily for Felipe Calderón, who edged out López Obrador nationally. Baja Californians elected PAN governors in 1989, 1995, 2001 and 2007, but in 2010, voters elected PRIistas to be mayors of all five state municipalities.

As seen in Table 2 below, in the last three presidential elections, the PRI vote in Baja California has been right around the national average. Also in the last three presidential elections, the PAN vote in Baja California has been well above the national average and the left-of-center vote well below the national average.

Table 1: Presidential voting in Baja California, 1988-2006

Year/ Party PAN votes % Candidate PRI % Candidate Left coalition % Candidate
1988 100,981 24.4 Clouthier 151,739 36.7 Salinas 153,949 37.1 Cárdenas
1994 297,565 37.1 Fernández 402,332 50.2 Zedillo 68,669 8.5 Cárdenas
2000 429,194 50.7 Fox 319,477 37.7 Labastida 77,340 9.1 Cárdenas
2006 450,186 48.6 Calderón 203,233 21.9 Madrazo 224,275 24.2 López Obrador
2012     Vázquez Mota     Peña Nieto     López Obrador


Table 2: Presidential voting in Baja California,
1988-2006, compared with national results

Year/ Party PAN % in B.C. PAN % nationally PRI % in B.C. PRI% nationally Left coalition % in B.C. Left coalition % nationally
1988 24.4 16.8 36.7 50.7 37.1 31.1
1994 37.1 25.9 50.2 48.7 8.5 16.6
2000 50.7 42.5 37.7 36.1 9.1 16.6
2006 48.6 35.9 21.9 22.3 24.2 35.3


Table 3: Recent polls on Baja Californians'
presidential preferences

Poll PAN PRI Left coalition
Testa Marketing 27% 29% 29%
Zeta 21% 29% 39%


Table 4: Recent polls on Baja Californians'
Senate preferences

Poll PAN PRI Left coalition
Testa Marketing 28% 26% 23%
Zeta 26% 26% 30%
Explora Investigación Estratégica 27% 33% 20%


Collignon's column mentioning the poll results at the end (PDF).