The first presidential debate takes place this Sunday, it will signal an authentic start of the unprecedented running we are experiencing. The latter because, even though campaigns formally started two weeks ago, after proposals, many disqualifications, and polls of all kind, we have been analyzing and anticipating scenarios based on schemes and suppositions that might not be realistic.

Facing a López Obrador who leads all polls, we remember his previous record and performance to conclude that in the end he does not win, “he stumbles.” Perhaps, but in the past, the negative aspects of AMLO surpassed the positives. This is no longer true today.

It has been said that 30 percent of hard support for el Peje, fixed for many years, would be his limit. Indeed, this third proved to be his floor, not his roof. Today, all the polls indicate an estimate of 40 percent of the vote in his favor.

We say that the PAN has loyal voters. Yes, but today the PAN is divided, and the faction allied with the PRD is provoking serious conflicts of conscience among the most conservative panistas.

We know that the PRI has the most efficient electoral mechanism. It is true, but today AMLO has reached wide territorial coverage, continuously worked and reinforced with his CNTE, PES, and miner allies who have positioned him in regions of the country where he did not have success. The campaign kickoff in Ciudad Juarez is an undeniable show of force.

It is said that the independent candidates will break down the vote and take it from the PRI’s opposition. This may happen, but the bet is risky, first because the numbers are new and therefore hard to measure and predict, and second, because they could end up taking votes from the PRI’s candidate. I say this without counting on the indignation caused by the inclusion of El Bronco in the electoral ballot, protected by the four magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal who rewarded his cheating.

Finally, we speak about the historical pattern of a contest between two candidates, which facilitates strategic voting. While this has happened, we could also end up with a front-runner and two candidates fighting for the second place. While most polls register a second and third place (for Anaya and Meade, respectively), the priista attack on Anaya had the two-fold effect of stopping his upward trend and lower Meade’s at the same time, while AMLO remained on the rise.

We are in uncharted territory. Sunday’s debate will modify the coordinates we see today. Monday we could be speaking of a whole other election.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author.