- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has opened up such a wide lead ahead of July 1’s Mexican presidential vote that his coattails could give his party a working congressional majority as well, according to a new polling analysis released this week.

A skeptic of the NAFTA free-trade deal with Canada and the United States and of recent moves to liberalize the country’s energy sector, Mr. Lopez Obrador’s Morena party and its likely allies now average 46 percent support in a series of recent polls compiled by the Bloomberg news service, 18 points ahead of Ricardo Anaya of the center-right National Action Party, or PAN.

The latest survey comes as U.S., Mexican and Canadian negotiators expressed increasing pessimism that they can come up with a re-write of the 1994 NAFTA accord demanded by President Trump in the coming days.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has told the White House that Congress needs a final package to debate as early as this week if lawmakers are to have enough time to approve the revisions ahead of November’s midterm elections.

If a NAFTA vote is pushed off to 2019, Mr. Trump faces the possibility that he will need the approval of a new Congress with a much larger Democratic representation — and a Mexican parliament dominated by Mr. Lopez Obrador’s party and its allies.

Mr. Lopez Obrador’s Morena Party has the support of 41 percent of Mexican voters in the race for control of Mexico’s 500-seat lower house of parliament, with several smaller parties likely to join his governing coalition.

A populist former mayor of Mexico City and twice a failed candidate for president, Mr. Lopez Obrador’s strong showing this year has unnerved investors and business leaders, even as he has tried to moderate some of his past anti-market stances.

The peso has weakened noticeably as Mr. Lopez Obrador’s lead has widened and NAFTA’s prospects have dimmed, down nearly 10 percent against the increasingly strong U.S. dollar in the past month.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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