03 November 2011

More from Michoacán

A poll published Nov. 3 in the Reforma newspaper gives PAN candidate Luisa María Calderón a six-point advantage in the Michoacán gubernatorial contest. Left unanswered is how the Nov. 2 assassination of La Piedad mayor Ricardo Guzmán Romero as he campaigned for Calderón will impact the Nov. 13 election in Michoacán, where the quasi religious drug cartel La Familia Michoacana and a splinter group, Knights Templar, are disputing the state.

It's probable, as happened in Tamaulipas after the assassination of PRI gubernatorial frontrunner Rodolfo Torre Cantú, voter turnout will plunge – something which favours the PRI (witness the low participation in the State of Mexico) as the party gets its mostly poor "voto duro" to the polls with inducements and coercive tactics and the middle classes stay home.

The Reforma poll showed Calderón – a former senator best known for crossing swords with "Jefe Diego" and the sister of President Felipe Calderón – receiving 39 percent support, six points better than PRI candidate Fausto Vallejo. The PRD campaign of Sen. Silvano Aureoles was running a distant third with 28 percent support. More importantly for Calderón the poll showed her campaign gaining ground: Support increased by 10 percentage points from the last Reforma poll in September, while the PRI and PRD campaigns lost ground.

A Calderón victory would bolster the president as he attempts to establish some sort of lasting political legacy for the PAN, which has struggled in local elections during his administration and appears set to be voted from power on the federal level in the July 1, 2012 national elections.

The results could prove disastrous for the PRD. The party has been beset by infighting and its plans to name the 2012 presidential candidate from a poll is expected to generate discontent among the losing side – be it 2006 candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador or Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard. The party already has lost the stronghold states of Baja California Sur and Zacatecas. Michoacán, where the party also has been rife with infighting, appears to be next.

The PRI is running competitive in Michoacán, but its campaign has yet to capture any serious momentum – spare the moments when the party's presidential frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto showed up for a day of campaigning.

One observer, parish priest Jesús Alfredo Gallegos Lara – better known as "Padre Pistolas" – cast some doubt on the Reforma poll, saying the survey was done by telephone in a state where "many of the ranchos don't have phones." The PRD, he told me, draws most of its support from the ranchos.

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