Mexico's Sheinbaum widens lead in race for ruling party candidacy -poll

FILE PHOTO: Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum holds a rally in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum slightly extended her lead in the race to become the Mexican ruling party's candidate for the 2024 presidential election, an opinion poll conducted through early August showed on Tuesday.

According to the July 30-Aug 4 survey by polling firm Parametria, 32% of the general public supported Sheinbaum to be candidate for the leftist ruling National Regeneration Movement(MORENA), up from 30% in a poll conducted a month earlier.

Her closest rival is ex-foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, whose support for the MORENA candidacy held stable at 20%. Ebrard continues to be the best known candidate, although Sheinbaum has closed the gap, the survey showed.

Sheinbaum and Ebrard are comfortably the most popular contenders for the presidential candidacy, which MORENA is due to announce on Sept. 6 based on national polling to pick a winner. None of the other MORENA hopefuls reached 10% support.

MORENA is strongly favored to win the next election, buoyed by the popularity of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who - like all Mexican presidents - is limited to a single six-year term. The entry of Senator Xochitl Galvez into the race for the main opposition ticket has, however, energized MORENA'S adversaries.

The poll showed once voters expressing no preference are excluded, MORENA had 57% support. Two parties currently allied to MORENA garnered another 8%. A three-way alliance of opposition parties drew 25% in combined support.

A daily tracking poll of support for the MORENA contenders by research firm Consulta Mitofsky has also shown Sheinbaum recently advancing in the race.

Ebrard had cut her lead to 6.5 points by July 27, but Sheinbaum has bounced back and held an advantage of more than 9 points on Tuesday, Mitofsky's latest figures showed.

Parametria said its survey, seen by Reuters, was based on face-to-face interviews with 800 adult voters, and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points. It showed Ebrard was known to 68% of respondents, and Sheinbaum to 65%.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Mark Potter)