Mexico presidential front-runner with steady lead-poll

MEXICO CITY Tue May 1, 2012 4:58pm EDT

Enrique Pena Nieto (C), presidential candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), waves to supporters after attending a private meeting with Spanish's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a hotel in Mexico City April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Enrique Pena Nieto (C), presidential candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), waves to supporters after attending a private meeting with Spanish's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at a hotel in Mexico City April 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto, of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), saw his big lead over the ruling party candidate recede slightly ahead of the July 1 election, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The latest opinion poll by pollster Consulta Mitofsky showed Pena Nieto with 38 percent support, down 2.1 percentage points from the Mitofsky survey published on April 24.

That still gave him a big lead over Josefina Vazquez Mota from the ruling National Action Party (PAN). Her support of 22 percent was up just 0.5 percentage points from the last poll.

Vazquez Mota's popularity has suffered from discontent with President Felipe Calderon's government. Violence has surged in Mexico since Calderon took office in late 2006 and launched an army-backed crackdown on drug cartels.

In third place is leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the last election. He gained 0.2 percentage points to reach 18 percent support, the poll showed.

Preaching a message of love and reconciliation, Lopez Obrador is trying to win back voters he alienated with massive, disruptive street protests he launched in the capital after claiming he had been robbed of the presidency in the 2006 election.

Pena Nieto, the 45-year-old former governor of the populous State of Mexico, is aiming to return the PRI to power after more than a decade on the sidelines.

The latest Mitofsky poll showed the PRI could capture a majority of seats in the lower house and senate.

According to the poll data, the PRI and the environmentalist Greens, a small party running on the same ticket, could win nearly 51 percent of votes for congress.

Mitofsky surveyed 1,000 people 18 and older with a margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(Reporting By Patrick Rucker; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)

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