MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Former Mexico finance minister Jose Antonio Meade, who resigned to seek the presidential nomination of the ruling party, is lagging far behind in public support ahead of next year's election, according to a newspaper poll published on Wednesday.
Meade, who is widely expected to receive the nomination of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), came in third in two scenarios polled by Mexican newspaper El Universal, while leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador maintained a strong lead in both instances.
The survey found that 31 percent of respondents would vote for Lopez Obrador, who leads the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, followed by the conservative National Action Party's (PAN) Ricardo Anaya, leading a coalition of parties, with 23 percent. Meade came in third with 16 percent.
When Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera was entered into the mix for the coalition, Obrador had 32 percent support, followed by Mancera with 22 percent and Meade with 15 percent.
The poll was conducted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4, after Meade resigned to seek the presidency.
Meade, who has served in both PRI and PAN administrations, has a reputation for honesty that PRI officials hope will help the party recover from a spate of corruption scandals. But he remains unknown to much of the Mexican public.
A victory for the combative and nationalist-leaning Lopez Obrador, who promises to revive economic growth by battling graft, could stoke tensions with the Trump administration just as the United States, Mexico and Canada seek to seal a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Support for MORENA and the PAN slipped 1 percentage point from the previous poll in November, while support for the PRI held steady at 16 percent, according to El Universal.
The survey by pollster Buendia & Laredo included 744 face-to-face interviews and has a +/- 4.1 percent margin of error.
(Reporting by Julia Love and Veronica Gomez; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Phil Berlowitz)