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Mexico’s Pena Nieto Keeps Lead as Second Place Undefined: Poll

Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto maintained his two-digit lead as his two rivals fought for second place in the latest opinion poll before the July 1 vote.

Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as PRI, had 37.9 percent of voter preferences, from 38.4 percent a week ago, according to the poll released today by Consulta Mitofsky. Support for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution rose to 20.5 percent from 19.1 percent, while Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party had 20.1 percent backing, down from 20.8 percent, according to the Mexico City-based polling company.

Pena Nieto has maintained his lead even after making public blunders in early campaigning and after thousands of students marched against him in Mexico City last weekend. He has benefited from the fact that there is no clear second-place candidate to pick up all the votes of people who don’t want the once-dominant PRI to win, said Roy Campos, who heads Mitofsky.

“When you cannot define second place, there is no strategic vote,” Campos said in a phone interview in Mexico City. “The strategic vote is not a vote for whom you want, but a vote against someone you don’t want.”

Campos said the strategic vote helped President Felipe Calderon win the 2006 election because PRI voters who no longer thought their party would win picked him to prevent Lopez Obrador gaining the presidency.

The Mitofsky poll of 1,000 people was taken May 18 to May 20 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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