SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Mexicans go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new president. The front-runner of the race is reportedly Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI party, the PRI, which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years before it lost in 2000. Most polls show Pena Nieto with a comfortable double-digit lead. They also show that voter enthusiasm for the election in Mexico is waning. In fact, as many as a third of those eligible to vote may state at home.
NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico City.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: At this outdoor market in the city of Texoco, in the central state of Mexico, vendors work hard to get buyers attention and money.
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KAHN: And the campaigns of the major presidential candidates have tried hard to get the vendor's attention. One candidate gave everyone in the market ground tarps with his face and his party's logo on it. Another passed out bright yellow aprons.
Guadalupe Gaspar, who sells bracelets, barrettes and children's books, says she's had enough of the campaigning and doesn't find any of the three major candidates appealing.
GUADALUPE GASPAR: (Through Translator) None of them. I don't like any. There's the woman candidate, who I'm told to vote for her because she's a woman. Then there's the guy the TV stations love or the one on the left who hasn't said anything new in years. None of them are worth my time.
KAHN: Gaspar is 28, a single mother and reflects a large group of independent and undecided voters in the election. Pollsters say as many as 20 percent of voters remain undecided and possibly 35 percent of the electorate may just sit this one out. Voter fatigue is an issue. Election propaganda is everywhere, from glossy posters plastering light posts in small towns to the multitude of huge billboards along Mexico City's traffic-clogged boulevards.
Araceli Ortiz, who sells fried bananas at the market, says she doesn't dare to turn on her TV these days.
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KAHN: She says it's flooded with ads and they're all confusing. It is hard to turn on the TV without hearing a catchy tune, a promising slogan or seeing heartwarming images of the three major candidates, Pena Nieto, Josephina Vazquez Mota or Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Spanish spoken)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Spanish spoken)
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KAHN: Turnout is expected to be about 65 percent. That's about what it was in the historic 2000 presidential race that ended the authoritarian PRI Party's 71-year rule of Mexico. But Pollster Jorge Buendia says that reflects more a much needed cleaning up of the electoral rolls than voter enthusiasm.
JORGE BUENDIA: Indeed. This race doesn't have the same level of excitement as the 2006 election had, 'cause the race is not that close and there was not a clear candidate who was the embodiment of change.
KAHN: He says the candidates haven't distinguished themselves with clear solutions to fix Mexico's problems, so the campaigns have centered more on who voters should trust and their personalities.
Buendia's latest poll, released this week with the Dallas Morning News, shows the PRI's Pena Nieto leading by 17 points over second place leftist PRD candidate Lopez Obrador. PAN Party candidate Vazquez Mota, trailing in third.
Eric Olson, of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., says even the devastating drug war of the last six years isn't number one on voters' minds.
ERIC OLSON: There just hasn't been the sort of large driving issues that has really gotten people excited.
KAHN: He says polling in Mexico and most of Latin America isn't an exact science yet. He says it is possible the undecided voters could surprise cynics and cause an upset in what has been called one of Mexico's most lackluster elections in the country's nascent democratic history.
Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.
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