(Bloomberg) -- Mexico front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s lead over runner-up Ricardo Anaya narrowed in two voter opinion polls, a sign that the race could get closer as the July 1st election draws near.
The latest survey from GEA-ISA -- which has been showing a much tighter race than other pollsters -- has Anaya, who heads a coalition of right and left-leaning parties, trailing left-wing Lopez Obrador by 6 percentage points, down from a 9-point gap in the previous poll. The upward momentum tracks with a recent sample taken by Reforma newspaper that showed Anaya gaining 4 points on the front-runner.
Lopez Obrador still holds a comfortable 14-point advantage over Anaya in Bloomberg’s poll tracker, but it’s down from a high of 21 points in April. The strong performance in the first of three televised debates last month by the pro-business Anaya is widely seen as handing him a boost. Anaya will likely keep gaining ground as he consolidates support among voters opposed to Lopez Obrador, who’s promised to overhaul social programs and spending policies, according to political risk consultancy Empra.
"If people perceive that Lopez Obrador really isn’t going to be good for the country’s economy, that jobs will be lost and they start worrying about this, there is a window of opportunity” for Anaya, said Alejandro Schtulmann, who runs Empra. "I don’t know if this will be enough for Anaya, but the election isn’t yet sealed."
The peso rose 1.6 percent today to 19.2518 per dollar, outperforming all major currencies except the South African Rand.
In Thursday’s GEA-ISA poll, Lopez Obrador’s approval fell 1 point to 37 percent, while Anaya rose 2 points to 31 percent; Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling PRI party fell 2 points to 25 percent. The poll of 1,070 respondents in their homes was conducted April 28-30 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. While the previous poll in mid-March had the front-runner ahead by 9 points, the poll before that, in early March, showed only a 5-point lead.
Anaya, a 39-year-old who rose to prominence in just the past few years, is presenting himself as the last hope for voters who are both fed up with the incumbent -- after numerous corruption scandals dogged the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto -- and also fearful of Lopez Obrador.
He forged an electoral alliance with Mexico’s well-established social democrats and says he’ll double the miserly minimum wage, and eventually guarantee a universal basic income for all Mexicans.
Anaya demonstrated a command of the issues in the April 22 debate and attacked Lopez Obrador’s plans on several occasions. A second debate is set for May 20 but the format will change to allow questions from the audience. Lopez Obrador is generally seen as more effective interacting with people live while Anaya is more adept at explaining policy ideas in controlled environments.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.