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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mexico leftist's lead grows in new poll

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador extended his lead over his conservative rival to 4 percentage points in a poll published in the Excelsior newspaper on Tuesday.

With the July 2 ballot looming, the poll gave Lopez Obrador 36.5 percent of the potential vote, compared to 32.5 percent for his closest rival, ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon.

Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until being beaten by President
Vicente Fox in 2000, trailed in third place with 27 percent, unchanged from the previous Excelsior poll, published June 6.

In that survey, Lopez Obrador led by just over 1 percentage point.

Despite his new lead, in a television interview on Tuesday morning Lopez Obrador criticized the methodology used by polling companies in Mexico and said he was even further ahead.

"It is a methodology designed for homogenous societies. It's a North American methodology, it might apply in the United States, but our society doesn't function like that," he told broadcaster Televisa, predicting he would win by a "wide margin" of six to 10 percentage points.

Critics say pollsters rarely interview the poor, rural segments of Mexican society that make up a considerable part of Lopez Obrador's supporters.

Several other recent polls have put the leftist either ahead of or closing in on Calderon, who took the lead for the first time in April as long-time favorite Lopez Obrador's campaign stumbled and his opponents launched a series of attack ads.

Lopez Obrador has since responded with his own negative campaigning, and has managed to sully former energy minister Calderon's image with accusations of nepotism during the conservative's time in office.

The newspaper conducted the survey in conjunction with pollsters Parametria between June 15-18 and interviewed 1,000 people. The poll, Excelsior's last before the election, has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
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