Lopez Obrador has dominated political life since taking office in December 2018, and his popularity, holding firm at around 60%, has helped make MORENA a formidable electoral machine. Under Mexican law, presidents may serve only one six-year term.
Nevertheless, his abrasive style and uncompromising agenda, which has pitted the state against private enterprise, and fueled conflict with curbs on that power such as the judiciary, have polarized voters. Lopez Obrador has frequently criticized some sectors of middle-class voters, and Mexico City and the State of Mexico in 2021 dealt MORENA unexpected setbacks in local elections.
Mexico City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, has had a slight edge in most polling for the race to be MORENA’s presidential candidate, pressed hard by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
Sheinbaum, like Gomez, MORENA’s State of Mexico candidate, is closely identified with Lopez Obrador and his agenda.
Failure to capture the State of Mexico, some analysts argue, could help make the case for putting up a presidential candidate with more moderate credentials such as Ebrard.
Because a MORENA victory has been taken for granted for months, an upset would give a powerful boost to the opposition, said Roy Campos, head of polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.
“For MORENA to lose this state,” Campos said, “would basically mean getting off to a really bad start for the contest in 2024.”