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Mexico vote takes pulse for presidential race

Associated Press / July 4, 2011

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ECATEPEC, Mexico - Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Eruviel Avila easily won the governor’s race in Mexico’s most populous state yesterday, according to an exit poll.

The election in the state of Mexico was seen as a barometer for the chances of candidates in next year’s presidential election.

The poll by private firm Mendoza Blanco y Asociados carried out for TV Azteca showed the Avila received 64 percent support, while Alejandro Encinas of the Democratic Revolution Party had 23 percent and Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the National Action Party had 13 percent. The poll had a margin for error of 4 percentage points.

Avila headed into the closely watched vote with a 30-percentage-point lead for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as PRI, which has never lost the governorship in more than 80 years.

The PRI was seeking a commanding victory to create momentum going into the July 2012 national election, in which it hopes to regain the presidency it lost in 2000 after 71 years of uninterrupted rule.

Mexico state is the country’s most populous, home to 15 million people and the sprawling, impoverished suburbs that ring Mexico City. It also boasts the most registered voters of any state, with 10.5 million.

The front-runner in presidential polls, Enrique Pena Nieto, is the state’s current PRI governor. The other two major parties, trailing in polls and lacking coalitions that have beaten the PRI in other states, are warning that backing the PRI is backing a return to the past, when “dinosaurs’’ wielded power through coercion, corruption, and intimidation.

Avila has not commented in recent days on the potential impact the Mexico state election could have on the PRI’s efforts to retake the presidency.

Asked Sunday whether the elections could give the PRI a boost ahead of 2012, Avila responded: “I’ll answer that when this election ends.’’

The leftist Democratic Revolution Party, won the presidential vote in the state of Mexico in 2006 despite PRI domination of state and local offices. The conservative National Action Party won the presidential vote there in 2000.

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