Backing for Mexico's leader hits lowest ebb after security setbacks - poll

MEXICO CITY, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Support for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has slipped to its lowest since he took office nearly a year ago, dragged down by security lapses, a tracking poll showed on Friday.

The survey by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky showed Lopez Obrador's approval rating at 59.8%, having suffered a progressive decline since the government's abortive attempt to capture a son of kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on Oct. 17.

His administration received another blow this week when three women and six children from U.S.-Mexican families of Mormon origin were murdered by suspected cartel gunmen on an isolated dirt road in northern Mexico.

Lopez Obrador's rating in the Mitofsky daily tracking poll had never previously been below 59.9%, a level it reached in May, but a series of mass shootings in past weeks have eroded confidence in his strategy to reduce record homicide levels.

Other polls give the president higher levels of support.

The veteran leftist took office in December vowing to take a less confrontational approach to pacifying the country after more than a decade of gang-fuelled bloodletting that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people in Mexico.

He has focused on tackling root causes of crime, such as poverty and joblessness, but murders have continued to rise, putting them on track to hit a new record in 2019.

Concern over law and order has taken center stage since the botched effort to arrest Ovidio Guzman, son of "El Chapo", in the northern city of Culiacan last month.

The government ordered military police to free Ovidio Guzman to avoid bloodshed after cartel henchmen started gunfights in the city and threatened security officials and their families.

The run of security problems has weighed on support for the president, said Roy Campos, head of Mitofsky.

Meanwhile, the economy has stagnated as domestic investment has been chilled by some decisions made by Lopez Obrador, including his cancellation of a part-built $13 billion new airport for Mexico City weeks before he assumed the presidency.

The tracking poll surveys 500 Mexicans with regular internet access. It does not publish a margin of error. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)