One brief glance at the 2018 Mexico election results does not tell the whole story of AMLO’s victory.
That is to say, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the new president-elect of Mexico.
How did this left-wing politician rise to his nation’s top office, and from where did his votes come?
2018 Mexico Election Results: The Votes
In December 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be Mexico’s first president outside the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) or PAN (National Action Party) since 1928.
Obrador claimed over 53 percent of the vote in the Mexican presidential election. This may not seem like it, but his victory was a landslide. For purposes of comparison, the outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, won with only 38 percent of the popular vote. Ernesto Zedillo was one of the highest vote-share getters in recent times, and he took 49 percent in 1994. You have to go back to Miguel de la Madrid winning with 74 percent in 1982 before seeing a victory this large, though he only had one major opponent.
On the state level, it was a blowout. Obrador won all but one of Mexico’s states; his only defeat came in Guanajuato, where Ricardo Anaya (PAN) took 40.4 percent. Meanwhile, in all others, AMLO’s margin of victory ran the spectrum. Nuevo León, Yucatán, and Aguascalientes were his least impressive victories, with 34.3, 39.1, and 39.7 percent, respectively. However, Obrador won 20 states with a majority of the vote, plus Mexicans living abroad, of whom he carried 65 percent. Tabasco, a state of about 2.4 million residents in the southeast, and Obrador’s home state, gave AMLO his biggest margin. Los Tabasqueños handed Obrador just over 80 percent of the vote.
The collapse of PRI is also worth noting. José Antonio Meade, the PRI candidate, took just 16.4 percent of the vote in the 2018 Mexican presidential election. This is the worst presidential result for PRI ever, and it and its ancestor parties have run candidates in every election since 1929. They governed for 71 years until Vicente Fox won in 2000, and have lost three of four presidential races since then. Meade’s campaign never struck the right chord with voters, contributing to his defeat.
2018 Mexico Election Results: The Map
Obrador’s victory spanned almost every state in Mexico. Tabasco was his best result, but location in the country was not necessarily an indicator of strength. For example, Obrador pulled 67 percent in Quintana Roo to the south, 65 in Nayarit in the center, and 64 percent in Baja California to the north. Because he won just about everywhere, it’s less easy to say there was a clear split in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) for each state. Quintana Roo and Oaxaca are on opposite ends of that spectrum, but both were landslide wins. Obrador and his party had promised to take on the plight of the poor, however, and southern Mexico has some of the nation’s poorest regions.
Guanajuato was the only state not to back Obrador. Its government is dominated by PAN, most of its federal elected officials are PAN, and PAN has a majority in the state congress. It’s no mistake that Anaya won it, but the AMLO wave hit every other part of the country. With it comes uncharted political territory for Mexico and its people.
2018 Mexico Election Results: The Bottom Line
The name “Donald Trump” has been mentioned often with regards to the 2018 Mexican election. While some think Trump played a role, others do not. What we can say for sure is that this was a change election in Mexico to an extent not seen in a long while. PRI and PAN, previously Mexico’s only two ruling parties, ranged from the center to center-right. Obrador will be the first president from a left-wing position in decades.
Its northern neighbors will soon vote in their own Senate and House elections, and like Mexico, change could be on the minds of voters. The political circumstances in Mexico, however, are much different, and the new Mexican president must navigate various domestic and international challenges.