Mexico is heading towards the largest electoral contest in its history, in which 20,000 public offices will be elected, including the governors of 15 of the 32 states and the 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies. The campaign has been developing for weeks around a central polarizing axis, the Andrés Manuel López Obrador project, with an omnipresent government party and a leaderless and blurred opposition. The June 6 elections mark the middle of the six-year term and the formation of the president clearly dominates the polls: almost 1 out of every 2 votes would go to Morena, according to the weighted average of the main polls prepared by EL PAÍS, which adheres to the composition Low camera.
At a great distance they are followed by the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), about 17% each. Further away are the smaller forces: the ruling left of the Labor Party (PT), the traditional one now in opposition to the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the pivotal Greens from PVEM, allies of Morena in Congress, and Movimiento Ciudadano are between 2 and 5 percentage points; but all of them would achieve representation thanks to their differential territorial implantation. The four scenarios that the polls show guarantee Morena, who today has an absolute majority, control of the Chamber with or without the support of other formations.
The stability of the race has been remarkable in recent months. In mid-2020 there was a turning point that marks a rebound for Morena. Indeed, two years after the victory of López Obrador and, despite several controversial decisions and a questioned handling of the health emergency of Covid-19, a large majority of Mexicans, 68%, continued to approve the management of the president. The wear and tear of the government action has hardly taken its toll and two months ago, in February, its acceptance remained at similar percentages, 65%, according to studies carried out by SIMO Consulting for this newspaper. In any case, the data do reflect more public dissatisfaction with femicides, in general the attitude of the Executive with the feminist movement, the security crisis and the pandemic.
From that moment, in the middle of last year, Morena consolidated a certain comeback that still continues, dragging up his closest parliamentary allies: PT and the Greens. Also the centrist MC has built an upward trend. Meanwhile, the old ruling party of the PRI and the opposition on the right of the PAN and on the left of the PRD have remained at stable levels, if perhaps downward in the case of the first two.
These estimation points have considerable uncertainty. In recent months, Morena has scored from 40% to 62% in polls. The margins are also very large for PRI (13-27), PAN (14-23), PRD (2-8) and, most notably, the Green Party: up to 8 points, which would put them in a much more difficult situation. solid than the one he currently enjoys within Congress.
There are two sources of uncertainty in the estimates. The first and natural is the change of context and, with it, of voting decisions. This affects more established platforms less, but is particularly important for smaller ones. Especially those like the PVEM that may depend on eventual alliances or their position with respect to the Government. The Greens have dissociated themselves, for example, from the controversial energy reform, now stuck in the courts, whose environmental impact will be devastating if it gets under way, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts. However, they have formed electoral platforms with the ruling party in various territories under the name of Together We Make History.
These elections and the composition of the Chamber of Deputies will, in any case, be decisive for the second half of the six-year term, in which López Obrador is determined to leave a mark on the history of the country with his project of the so-called Fourth Transformation. The president of has already given several signs of this by flagging down some questioned structural reforms. First, its energy plan, which involves an attempt to de facto re-nationalization of the electricity and hydrocarbon sectors, with the rescue of two state companies: the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and Pemex. Second, the justice reform, with which it is forcing an unprecedented pulse with the Judiciary and which, for now, translates into the extension of the mandate of the President of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar, and an open clash with the National Electoral Institute (INE).
The body disqualified two pro-government candidates, one of them, Félix Salgado Macedonio, very close to the president and denounced for violation, and approved a mechanism to put a stop to the majority benches so that there is no transfer of deputies between parties that appeared in coalition. López Obrador denounced “a plot” to take away the majority and Morena challenged these decisions. The Electoral Tribunal will rule on them next Tuesday amid enormous pressure from the government and the party leadership.
Another reason for uncertainty in opinion studies is the technical variation between surveys. Sample sizes, polling house biases and hidden markets play a role in Mexico, as in any country, where polls with different approximations are mixed. Although those selected here meet minimum criteria of quality and transparency, even between them there are important differences. For example, between those who carry out field work in person and others who do it by telephone. The latter have the advantage of agility and speed; the former are more arduous but achieve better response rates and reach populations that tend to respond less to calls.
All this makes it more difficult to be accurate with the forecasts, adding value to the availability of those who add several with a clear methodology.
The possible majorities
Considering the technical differences, the aggregator oraculus, led by the political scientist and pollster Javier Márquez, proposes a forecast that goes beyond the weighted average of polls. To project the translation of the vote to seats in the House, Oraculus applies a multilevel model in which the surveys carried out in households play a key role in defining the trend for each survey company, to which is added high-quality telephone surveys. As a preliminary step, the model evaluates historical deviations between the different territorial levels in order to, with all this, be able to reconstruct a series of reported simulations (up to 10,000). The accumulation of simulations at certain points informs which are the most probable scenarios. Of them, the central projection of Oraculus gives Morena an almost-absolute majority, who in fact could lose the one she now enjoys. In return, the ruling party would achieve a qualified majority by allying itself with those who until now (and with ups and downs in recent times) have been its preferred partners: the PT and the PVEM.
In fact, although only in 1 of every 4 simulations of the Morena model would it be able to maintain its current absolute, the qualifying of the sum with PVEM and PT occurs in almost 1 of every 2.
The president has already threatened to reform the Constitution if finally the electricity reform is declared unconstitutional and he needs Congress to consolidate his plans. The polls point to an end of term full of unknowns, because, although the citizen opposition – recently embodied, for example, by the outrage of the feminist movement – has an increasing presence, the institutional and parliamentary opposition lacks momentum and faces. The coalition formula Goes for Mexico, a kind of “all against Morena” that started last Christmas with the aim of “rescuing” the country, ended up cracking and has more than uncertain forecasts in the territories. The opposition’s disarticulation is reflected in all the polls. Meanwhile, López Obrador campaigns every day from the platform of his morning press conferences, the morning ones, which mark the agenda, serve him to unleash political battles, and set the terms of the debate.
Forecasting models like this are useful to better understand the uncertainty space. One way to specify this is to observe other possibilities that, despite being less likely according to the simulations, do not fall into the impossible. Considering two vectors of change, the strength of the ruling party versus the opposition and the “fourth forces” versus the big ones, we can look at four alternative scenarios.
Strong officialism. It is possible that Morena in particular and her regular partners are doing better than expected. In this scenario, López Obrador would once again have a faithful party with an absolute majority in the lower house that would revalidate the result of 2018.
Strong opposition. Even before this horizon, the traditional opposition parties would not have options to wrest control of the Chamber from Morena, although they would have a more solid base to articulate an electoral campaign with a view to the 2024 presidential elections.
Small strong. The context of relative erosion in certain social layers of López Obrador’s party could be combined with the lack of start-up of the traditional platforms clearly located in the opposition (PAN, PRI) to divert support and resulting seats to smaller formations. Paradoxically, and depending on the strength reached by PVEM and PT (as well as the confirmation or rupture of their alliances with MORENA), this could end up saving the majority of the executive power itself in the legislature.
Great forts. If Morena does well at the cost of engulfing part of the vote of PT and PVEM, he could consolidate his current absolute majority at the cost of losing the qualified one he has at hand. In either case, control of the Chamber would be guaranteed through the alliances.
Methodology and sources. The surveys included follow the aggregator’s selection oraculus. To obtain our average today, we apply a double weighting to the surveys of the last five months (including the current month) of time (the most recent weigh more) and frequency (a weight proportional to the number of surveys of each household , to avoid that a single company dominates the estimation). The backward trend is roughly drawn as a moving average of the latest polls published at any given time.
The scenarios are extrapolated from the pronóstico and Oracles, choosing its projection as the central scenario and defining four alternative scenarios within the range of what is relatively possible for each game, with probabilities> 5%.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.