Leftist holds wide lead in three polls ahead of Mexico president election

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had a lead of more than 20 points and more than one-half of the vote ahead of the country’s election on Sunday, according to three final polls published on Wednesday.

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The former Mexico City mayor had between 51 percent and 54 percent of votes from those who chose a candidate in surveys by newspapers Reforma and El Financiero and polling firm Parametria.

After failing in two previous runs for the presidency, Lopez Obrador’s popularity has grown hand in hand with Mexicans’ anger at the failure of traditional parties to end record levels of violence and end corruption.

Parametria founder Francisco Abundis said the current race was unusual because unlike the previous three elections, the gap between the leading candidate and the runner-up has not closed as the vote draws near.

“It’s not easy to explain,” Abundis said. “He [Lopez Obrador] ended up being the right candidate for these times, a candidate seen as anti-system.”

The battle for second place has been fierce. Two of the polls placed Ricardo Anaya of left-right coalition “For Mexico in Front” comfortably in second place. But El Financiero put ruling party candidate Jose Antonio Meade slightly ahead of him.

The number of people who did not choose a candidate varied between 15 percent and 29 in the three polls.

The election will be the largest election in Mexico’s history, with the presidency, both houses of Congress, governorships and local legislatures all up for grabs.

Parametria’s poll, published exclusively by Reuters ahead of wider publication, showed Lopez Obrador’s Morena party with 41 percent of preferences for the lower house of Congress, excluding voters who didn’t choose a candidate.

The poll had the Morena party with 38 percent for the Senate and Anaya’s National Action Party (PAN) in second. The sample size was not big enough to project the number of seats in either house.

Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jeffrey Benkoe