Futbol Sorrows and a Neck-and-Neck Race
A sad, sad few days here in Mexico. The national team lost to Portugal in Wednesday's World Cup match.
Why is Campaign Conexión passing along soccer results. Well, "futbol" is the hottest thing here, and sometimes it's the only way presidential candidates can get any attention.
"Midway through Mexico's World Cup contest against Portugal," the Los Angeles Times's Richard Boudreaux reported, "Felipe Calderón made his play of the day. 'I will be the jobs president,' the candidate declared in a 30-second spot to millions of Mexicans glued to the televised match."
Though a diehard fan, Calderón in campaign appearances tried to remind voters of the difference between a game and a presidential election. "Our destiny will be played out here, not in Germany," he chastised, according to El Universal.
On the Ground Video
Watch a washingtonpost.com video on Mexico's presidential election -- clips of Calderón and Obrador on the campaign trail, interviews with voters and more.
Back to the Campaign
Spinning, spinning, spinning. Private and public polling numbers are flying so fast that Campaign Conexión is getting dizzy. With just nine days remaining until the election, it is obvious this will be a down-to-the-wire finish.
Dominating the cover of the Mexico City tabloid Milenio is the paper's survey giving former mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador a 5-point lead over PAN's Calderón. But the most entertaining notion to emerge from the data is the idea that PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo is still alive!
Inside are a half-dozen charts that are of equal or greater import than the presidential horserace. Milenio reports, for instance, that while López Obrador, nominee of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, holds a comfortable lead in the presidential contest, the PRD's senatorial candidates are trailing. The graphic charting Calderón's popularity since January shows a line that spikes on May 1 and then steadily slides in the subsequent month.
Of course, for every poll showing AMLO up, there seems to be one giving Calderón the edge. Among likely voters, Grupo Economistas y Asociados found Calderón leads 41 percent to 36 percent. And no surprise: Calderón says his campaign's internal polling shows him with the edge.
For an overview of Mexico surveys, called "encuestas," take a look at this collection. But I think the Houston Chronicle got it just about right when it noted that virtually all of the polls are within the margin of error, "making the race too close to call."
So why do we spend all that money on polls?
The Big Close
All campaigning for the July 2 election ends on the night of June 28, so the candidates are frantically criss-crossing the country in what Mexicans call the "campaign closing." On the trail Wednesday, Calderón was wooing indigenous voters in Chiapas, while López Obrador was still trying to soothe jittery nerves in the corporate sector.
After being battered for more than 2 weeks about his "uncomfortable brother-in-law," Calderón now claims the charges that his wife's brother engineered sweet deals with government agencies has not damaged his candidacy.
From our perch here in Mexico City, that seems a bit hard to swallow, but it does appear that conservative Calderón has finally been able to change the subject.
Calderón, a short technocrat who runs on the slogan "manos limpias," or clean hands, promised residents and tourists in Acapulco that if elected he'll clean up the resort town -- literally. A contracting dispute has halted trash pick-up in Acapulco for nearly 3 weeks and speaking from a portside Zocolo (or large public square), Calderón chortled: "All the way over here we can smell the garbage."
At a stop in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Calderón said he intends to continue "foxismo" policies, embracing the record of President Vicente Fox.
However, if the Milenio poll showing Obrador ahead is to be believed, that might not be a wise strategy. The paper found that 51 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed believe Calderón is following Fox's blueprint.
Forget El Presidente, It's the Governors Stupid
Imagine being the Big Dog for 71 years. Then a soda executive (Vicente Fox) abruptly ends that fiesta, knocking your party out of the presidency.
Now, six years later, it looks as though your new guy (Roberto Madrazo) isn't going to be able to retake the top job. What do you do?
If you're the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, you take your cues from the Democratic Party up in the United States. A cabal of PRI governors is jockeying for control of the party (a la Howard Dean) in the expectation that Madrazo will lose.
El Universal devoted an entire page Wednesday to the subject of PRI governors, demonstrating the clout they still hold. An analysis of voting patterns in the 17 Mexican states run by the PRI between 1991 and 2003 suggests that losing support of four or five of the governors could cost Madrazo 1.5 million votes.
For an alternative view, look at what Joaquin Hendricks, former PRI governor of Quintana Roo, has to say about the presidential contest.
-- Ceci Connolly
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