Millennials could be the key for Mexico's candidates

Millennials could be the key for Mexico’s presidential candidates

So-called Millennials, aged 18-36, represent over half of all of Mexico’s electorate and they have been the voting majority in the past two presidential elections. Turnout still hovers at around 60% which is why all the main candidates are trying to tap into the preferences of the younger generation in order to reel them in.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (a.k.a. AMLO) has made the young a priority ever since he began campaigning for his first presidential election in 2006. As a former Mexico City mayor, he was recognised for having put youth rights at the top of his agenda, and with that, he was able to conquer the country’s second largest voting region.

By contrast, youthful candidate Ricardo Anaya is a first timer and, until now, was not a recognisable public figure for young voters yet. In spite of his aggressive agenda and technologically-driven approach to convincing this demographic that he is the right choice, he still remains second to AMLO.

As for Jose Antonio Meade — the governing party’s candidate — he is lagging far behind for two principal reasons: his age and his Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) party affiliation. He would have to radically change party perceptions to win and this is very difficult among this voter group.

AMLO (b.1953) is by no means a young candidate and this is an advantage for Anaya (b.1979). The former’s long-standing political career combined with his ability to engage with both urban and rural populations — unlike the other two candidates AMLO has travelled and rallied in nearly every corner of the country — have given AMLO nearly 50% of voter preference in two public opinion polls in March.

In the short term the question will be how AMLO and Anaya maximise their advantages and minimise their weaknesses. Both have expressed sympathy with working-class Mexicans but AMLO has been slow in expressing explicit support for diverse social groups which has shifted opinion toward Anaya.

Meade, who has the support of below 15% in most polls, is seen as part of the old guard PRI who nearly all Millennials want out of government.

AMLO and Anaya are therefore likely to benefit from their campaign strategies in the coming quarter. AMLO will continue to remain on message while avoiding criticism of other candidates, while Anaya will seek to outpace AMLO in order to attract undecided or wavering voter perceptions, which is also a key characteristic of the Millennials who vote.