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By: inoljt,

Mexico has recently elected as president Governor Enrique Peña Nieto. The handsome new president won 38.2% of the vote, 6.6% over Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Peña Nieto’s vote was also 12.8% over Josefina Vázquez Mota, from the right-wing National Action Party (PAN).

Here’s what happened:

Mexico’s North-South Divide


Green — Enrique Peña Nieto, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Yellow — Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)
Blue — Josefina Vázquez Mota, National Action Party (PAN)

More below.

The map above indicates the states which each candidate won during the election. There’s a fairly strong characteristic for Peña Nieto to do worse as one goes south. The southern parts of Mexico are generally poorer, and left-wing candidate López Obrador thus wins most of the southern states. The blue states are those which remained loyal to third-place  Vázquez Mota of the conservative PAN. The PAN is stronger in northern Mexico; for a better look a right-wing PAN coalition, take a look at the 2006 election.

Yet there are some major exceptions to this North-South divide. Some of the poorest states in southern Mexico actually voted for Peña Nieto. These include Chiapas and Yucatán. Chiapas is famous for a 1994 uprising by indigenous Mexicans; Yucatán is famous for its Mayan culture.

In fact, López Obrador got 43.4% in Oaxaca but only 16.9% in Yucatán. Both states are poor and more populated by indigenous Mexicans, albeit culturally very different. Still, one would expect López Obrador to have run up the margins in places such as Yucatán and Chiapas.

Cities and the Countryside

On the macro-scale, Peña Nieto did better in northern Mexico. On the micro-scale, within each state, he generally did better in the countryside.

Mexico’s three largest metropolitan areas are Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. Here’s how Peña Nieto did in Monterrey (located in the state Nuevo León):

Green — Enrique Peña Nieto, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Yellow — Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)
Blue — Josefina Vázquez Mota, National Action Party (PAN)

This map paints a fairly clear picture. Peña Nieto wins the rural areas outside of the main city, whereas Vázquez Mota sweeps the city itself.

Monterrey is located in northern Mexico, and the state-level results reflect that. Vázquez Mota ended up getting 39.8% of the state Nuevo León, compared to Peña Nieto’s 33.2%. López Obrador polled a poor 22.0%.

Let’s take a look at Guadalajara (located in the state Jalisco):


Green — Enrique Peña Nieto, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Yellow — Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)
Blue — Josefina Vázquez Mota, National Action Party (PAN)

Peña Nieto does better in here, winning large parts of the city. Still, he loses some urbanized areas of Guadalajara.

Here’s a look at the overall state:


Green — Enrique Peña Nieto, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Yellow — Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)
Blue — Josefina Vázquez Mota, National Action Party (PAN)

Peña Nieto’s rural strength is clearer here. He wins everywhere outside the main city. It’s also apparent that Peña Nieto dominated the state. He ended up taking 40.0% of the vote, to Vázquez Mota’s 32.2% and López Obrador’s 22.6%.

How Mexico City Voted

20% of all the votes in the entire country were cast in Mexico City. Mexico City is divided into a Federal District and a state (named the State of Mexico). The Federal District takes in the downtown area, whereas the State of Mexico composes the northern suburbs.

As it turns out, Peña Nieto was Governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011. On the other hand, López Obrador was Head of the Government of the Federal District from 2000 to 2005. Obviously, this produced two very strong and opposing home-town effects.

It appears that López Obrador’s home-town effect was stronger. He took a thumping 52.9% in the Federal District, winning every district within.

This is actually somewhat surprising. A lot of Mexicans complained when López Obrador blocked the main avenue of Mexico City for months after losing the 2006 election, alleging fraud. Nevertheless, López Obrador still won the Districts Miguel Hidalgo and Cuauhtémoc, the main sites of his protest, by double-digits. The PRD candidate did do somewhat worse in these areas than in the rest of the Federal District.

Peña Nieto’s performance in his home state wasn’t as impressive. He only took 43.2% of the vote in the State of Mexico and lost the places neighboring the Federal District.

Overall, López Obrador won 41.2% to Peña Nieto’s 36.1%. Vázquez Mota lagged behind with only 17.9% of the vote.


Most pre-election polls placed Peña Nieto with big double-digit leads over his opponents. He generally polled a good deal above 40% of the vote.

Peña Nieto’s actual margin of 6.6% was a lot less impressive than these predictions. He underperformed the polls by quite a bit.

It’s very possible that the pollsters deceived themselves with the conventional wisdom (which was that Peña Nieto was crushing the opposition). On the other hand, perhaps a lot of voters genuinely changed their minds, taking a second look at a person who doesn’t read books. They might have been wary of giving back power to the PRI, which used to be a very corrupt party that stole elections.

If millions of Mexicans did in fact change their minds about Peña Nieto during the final days of the campaign, tens of millions more stayed faithful. Those mainly northern, mainly rural votes propelled him to the presidency.

P.S. Here are two good sources of data about the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election:

The Official Results – Note that Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador ran under multiple party banneres.

To get Peña Nieto’s total vote, add the votes in three columns: the column under the PRI flag; the column under the VERDE flag; and the column under the PRI and VERDE flags together.

To get López Obrador’s total vote, add together seven columns: the column under the PRD flag; the column under the PT flag; the column under the Movimiento Ciudadano flag; the column under the PRD, PT, and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together; the column under the PRD and PT flags together; the column under the PRD and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together; and finally the column under the PT and Movimiento Ciudadano flags together.

To get Vázquez Mota’s vote, just look at the numbers under the PAN column.

Google Elections – This provides very interactive and detailed results. Unfortunately, the data is not fully updated. For instance, Google Elections shows Peña Nieto winning the state Veracruz with 98.94% reporting. He actually lost the state.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I thought that Nieto won by giving everyone .. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, wu ming, la urracca

    ... a free Soriano card. Of course, the cards all failed the day after the election.

    "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

    by Explorer8939 on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 11:15:42 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, wow, can't believe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net, grover, concernedamerican

    López Obrador lost Chiapas.  

    I didn't watch this election very closely, but it seems López Obrador should have known that he wouldn't be able to repeat his popularity from 2006; he shouldn't have run at all. But, I guess the left didn't have anyone better? What happened to Marcelo Ebrard? I thought he was popular as "mayor" of  Mexico City, DF?

    So now Mexico is stuck with Peña for 6 years. Hope it goes better than with Calderón.

    One boy against the Stock Market all Wall Street ascream. --Allen Ginsberg, "Elegy Ché Guévara"

    by Anak on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 11:20:57 PM PDT

  •  Question about the PAN (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, grover

    I thought they were center-right, but you characterize them as right-wing.  I know little about each of the three party's policies, so please enlighten me some on this.

    Hail to the king, baby.

    by KingofSpades on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 11:55:25 PM PDT

    •  I'm not too clear myself. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Center-right might be a better description. What is true is that they're the most right-wing of the three parties.

      The PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) is the most left-wing.

      I have no idea what the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) stands for, to be honest.

      by Inoljt on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:01:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As Inoljt says, PAN is the most right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, Azazello, DBunn


      But in Mexico, these categories often don't mean much. It depends more on the individual. For example, the PRD is supposedly the party of the left, but when they get elected they often have a horrible record and are indistinguishable from any other elected official. Most of them started out in the PRI, after all, including López Obrador. Indeed, the pessimism about the political situation in Mexico led many to complain about Obrador from the start (back in 2006) as being a "not a real leftist."

      As for what the PRI stands for, perhaps something different now that they were out of power for 12 years. Let's hope.


      One boy against the Stock Market all Wall Street ascream. --Allen Ginsberg, "Elegy Ché Guévara"

      by Anak on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:10:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another example is the rhetoric of the PRI. (4+ / 0-)

      They are the party of the revolution. They are the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Wow. So as such, they repeat revolutionary type slogans. As an American, listening to them sounds like are on the left. But, of course, they are not, and haven't been so since the Cárdenas administration.

      One boy against the Stock Market all Wall Street ascream. --Allen Ginsberg, "Elegy Ché Guévara"

      by Anak on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:24:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely done (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    la urracca, Anak

    The only surprise for me in the vote count was Chiapas.  I would've bet AMLO would take that one, considering the history the state has had with the PRI.

    History will be kind to us because we will write it.

    by Sky Net on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:22:31 AM PDT

  •  Thanks. Good summary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    la urracca, Anak

    At this point, all we can do is hope that Peña Nieto uses his mandate for good for all Mexicans, because god knows, after the last 6 years, they deserve it.

    But the rhetoric that the "new PRI" is  not the old PRI isnt so convincing....

    So we'll wait and see.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:49:02 AM PDT

  •  If you overlay that national level map (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    concernedamerican, Inoljt, Odysseus

    with a map of the Mexican Revolution, it's pretty damn interesting.  For example, the PRD is strongest in those sections of the country where the original Zapatista movement dominated, especially in the states of Morelos, Guerrero, and Puebla -- though PAN dominance in Veracruz is interesting and I wonder how that breaks down regionally.  The PRI, meanwhile, took the northern regions where the Constitutionalists (and the Villistas) emerged, and also solidified their historical base in places like Michoacán and Jalisco.

    I'm not surprised the PRI took the heavily indigenous states of Chiapas and Yucatán -- the mechanisms of social control are heaviest there, making it harder for opposition parties to organize.  Those places were relatively quiescent during the Revolution.

    It's a hundred years later, but those patterns haven't gone away.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 04:04:38 AM PDT

  •  I'm happy to see some interest in the elections (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in Mexico. They affect us up here to through trade, drugs, and immigration.

    I hadn't followed the elections at all except by talking to the only Mexican I know well and he is probably a low info voter, or non voter as hed didn't vote because he was here.

    He claimed Nieto is backed by the Narco Traffickers. I've no idea if that's true but my friend attributes outsized influence on narco money.

    My friend knows I'm politically involved and leftward in the US. I seldom discuss politics with him as my Spanish is pretty horrid anyway. In the US he is a strong Romney supporter despite the fact that he's felt the resurgent racism of late from the Republican party. I'm not sure if his support is coming from the radio station he listens to (Spanish Language from the Real Clear Network) or if it's just self interest, (Reagan gave everyone residency and Romney will too) I hesitate to say people are supporting candidates against their own self interest, that kind of thing grates on me. At least he can't vote being a non citizen ;-)

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 05:29:14 AM PDT

  •  Do any of the parties support (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    raising labor standards and/or stemming NAFTA's allowing factories to employ people in sweatshop conditions?

    Hail to the king, baby.

    by KingofSpades on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:18:36 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the analysis (0+ / 0-)

    But what are the chances that the election results are really a massive fraud? From what I understand, the PRI has stolen elections many times before.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 01:57:59 PM PDT

    •  I don't think it's very high. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are a lot of safeguards put in place now against fraud.

      It is true, however, that there were unsavory practices (e.g. vote-buying) during the election. And the PRI, from what I hear, did that more than the other parties.

      by Inoljt on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 11:14:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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