Mexico’s State Elections – Part 1

Next month, Mexicans in 12 states will go to the polls for municipal and statewide elections. The table below is drawn from Informador.MX, and shows their expected results based off polling from the end of April, although more recent numbers show tight races in 5 of 12 states.


Apart from the state media, these races tend to receive far less attention than the federal races. That said, the results of these elections can offer us initial insight into the themes that will shape the 2018 race.

The Rise of the Independents

The most substantial trend, and one that is woven into all three of these themes is the decline of affiliation with Mexico’s big three parties. This trend has been accelerating since 2006, as Mexicans remain skeptical of all three parties. The PRI remains unable to shake its legacy of corruption (compounded by troubles involving President Pena Nieto), and performances by local governors have damaged trust in the PAN and PRD.

The public are starting to associate systemic corruption with the ongoing violence associated with the drug-war, weakening faith in Mexico’s often fragile institutions. Jaime ‘El Bronco’ Rodriguez Calderon defeated challengers from all three parties to win the governor’s mansion in Nuevo Leon in 2015. Pundits have speculated on the likelihood of a state, or multiple states electing independents in this cycle, but the most recent round of polls indicate that this is unlikely to occur (at least in this round of races)

Partisan Flexibility, the PAN and the PRD

The evolution of Mexico’s two major opposition parties continues to surprise. The PRD, initially created in protest to free market reforms in the late 1980s, has seen a steady outflow of candidates to both Morena and the PAN. Often described as Mexico’s ‘conservative’ party, the PAN has moved closer to its Christian Democratic foundations which were abandoned with the neo-PAN exercise in the 1980’s. The amount of candidates moving freely between the PAN and the PRD has surprised observers, believing that the economic perspectives of the parties had little in common. Often a matter of electoral convenience, these dynamics area repeat of trends seen in the 1990’s, where the PAN and PRD cooperated extensively at the state and municipal level to weaken the PRI stranglehold on Mexico’s politics.

Can Morena make a mark?

After winning 35 seats in the 2015 midterm elections, expectations are high in many parts of the party. Observers believe that the party intends on using the 2016 campaign as a practice for the 2018 election, where AMLO is widely expected to run yet again for the presidency. Despite polling over 10% in many states, it is unlikely that Moreno will make major inroads in any state legislatures.


The Campaigns


Most observers expect Lorena Martinez Rodriguez to succeed Carlos Lozano de la Torre, who narrowly defeated PAN candidate Martin Orozco in the 2010 election. Martin Orozco is once again the candidate for the PAN, but is unlikely to match his 2010 performance. The PAN held power from 1998-2010, with victories from Felipe Gonzalz Gonzalez and Luis Armando Reynosa Femat. While earlier polling showed a tight race (PRI +2), media commentary indicates Rodriguez has started to pull away.

  • PAN – Martin Orozco Sandovia  – Ran previously for the PAN for governor, previous Senator and lawyer.
  • PRI+ Lorena Martinez Rodriguez – Former mayor of aguascalientes, and head of PROFECO, Mexico’s consumer protection agency.
  • PRD Ivan Alejandro Sanchez Najera – Former local candidate
  • Morea – Nora Ruvalcaba – Former member of the PRD, ran for the PRD for governor in 2010.
  • Ind – Gabriel Arellano Espinosa – Left the PRI


While the PAN were optimistic about their chances of picking up the governor’s mansion in Chihuahua, the most recent polling in this race has PRI candidate Enrique Escobar Serrano leading by ~11 points going into the final few weeks of the campaign. A loss in Chihuahua would be a blow to the 2018 hopes for the PAN, who believed the state to be within their grasp.  Jose Luis Barraza (IND) claims that his candidacy has the momentum, and internal polling has him within four points going into the final week of the race.

Parametria polling from September 2015 found that 90% of Chihuahuans view their state as insecure – the highest in the country. While the state has seen an overall decline in perceptions of security, Cuidad Juarez, which previously made international headlines for cartel violence, has seen its crime rate plummet. This bodes well for PRI candidate, and outgoing Cuidad Juarez mayor, Enrique Escobar Serrano.

  • PANJavier Corral Jurado – Journalist, and former Deputy/Senator for Chihuahua.
  • PRI+Enrique Escobar Serrano – Economist and Politician.
  • PRDJaime Beltran del Rio – Former mayor of Delicias. Left the PAN in December 2015, choosing instead to run for the PRD.
  • CM –  Cruz Perez Cuellar – Former president of the PAN in the state, Cuellar left the PAN in March 2015 to join the CM. Cuellar’s history with the PAN has been spotty, as his nomination for Senate in 2012 was anulled to to allegations of voter fraud.
  • Moreno – Francisco Javier Feliz Munoz
  • Ind – Jose Luis Barraza – Businessman with extensive political involvement, he organized a pressure group focused on attacking Andres Manuel Lopez Obradror in the heavily contested 2006 presidential election.


An increasingly heated race, the PAN/PRD has accused PRI candidate Villegas Villereal of authoritarianism. The accusations will likely be without effect, as polling in El Universal has Villereal leading by upwards of 11 points, and GCE has the PRI up by 12 points. When asked about candidates however, Torres outperforms the PAN brand, narrowing the race to 4 points.

  • PAN/PRD – Jose Rosas Aispuro Torres- Lawyer, former Mayor of Durango, and federal Deputy. 
  • PRI+ – Esteban Villegas Villerreal – Surgeon and former Mayor of Durango
  • PT – Alejandro Gonzalez Yanez – Senator for the State of Mexico
  • Morena – Guillermo Fabela Quinones – Removed from the ballot by the INE


The gubernatorial race in Hidalgo has been one of the most heated (accusations of candidates ties to the Santa Muerte cult, questions about sexuality and drug use), but is expected to be a blowout in favor of PRI candidate Omar Fayad Meneses. The race itself is probably more interesting than the individual candidates who have stepped forward, although the PAN candidate has demonstrated a tendency to offer rather controversial comments.

  • PAN – Francisco Xavier Berganaza Escorza
  • PRI+Omar Fayad Meneses – Senator, Deputy. 
  • PRD – Jose Guadarraa Marquez
  • PT  – Velia Ramirez Trejo
  • Moreno  – Salvador Torres Cisneros



This race is one I’ll be watching on June 5th. Polling from early May shows a 7 point lead for PRI+ candidate Alejando Murat over PAN/PRD candidate Jose Antonio Estefan Garfias. Murat draws stronger opinions from voters, with both higher positives and negatives. GCE shows a 4 point race, with Morena candidate Saloman Jara within reach, and over 40% of residents unwilling to ever cast a ballot for Alejandro Murat.  

  • PAN/PRD – Jose Antonio Estefan Garfias – Economist by training, and member of the PRD. Served as a federal deputy.
  • PRI+ – Alejandro Murat Hinojosa – Son of former governor Jose Murat, and distant cousin to President Enrique Pena Nieto. 
  • Morena – Saloman Jara Cruz – Former PRD deputy, followed AMLO to Moreno. 
  • PT – Benjamin Robles Montoya
  • SEP – Murat Alejandro Hinojosa




Be the first to comment on "Mexico’s State Elections – Part 1"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.