In fact, youthful voters could end up helping the PRI retake the presidency with its candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, a telegenic former governor of the central state of Mexico who is married to a soap opera star.
Peña Nieto, 45, leads in polls among voters younger than 30, mirroring his overall advantage over two main rivals, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the conservative PAN and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the left-tilting Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.
The fourth candidate, Gabriel Quadri of a party called New Alliance, barely registers support.
Young people who prefer Peña Nieto say they are drawn to his relative youth and good looks and dismayed by the performance of the PAN.
"It would be good to have a change, and I like Peña Nieto," said 18-year-old Roberto Ruiz, a student. "He's young, and I think that helps."
Many youthful voters see Peña Nieto's party as an emblem of change, a stunning turnaround from 2000, when the PRI lost after a 70-year reign marked by graft and, at times, ironfisted repression.
This year, the PRI is promoting a cleaned-up, modernized image. But many new voters are too young to remember the old one anyway.
"They don't have this historic memory of what the PRI was," said Guerrero, the communications professor. He said many young voters, like their elders, have concluded that the PRI's experience might be what the country needs to get the economy going and bring the drug violence under control.
There could be a bright spot in all the grumbling. Although dissatisfied, young Mexicans haven't abandoned hope for democracy in their country. The problem, they say, is that there isn't enough.
Many youths, for example, say one way to fix an ossified system is to allow independent candidates, breaking the parties' stranglehold on the ballots. That change was part of limited political reforms recently approved by Congress, though too late for the current election cycle.
Bermudez, who said he might yet settle on a candidate by July, described political life in Mexico as "neither a no nor a yes" — a limbo state where residents are urged to exercise their vote but know that real power rests elsewhere.
Party bosses determine which candidates appear on the ballot, with little role for ordinary voters before election day. A law barring reelection inoculates politicians against voter judgment once their terms end, and a weak justice system means there's little chance the corrupt will be punished. And so far, voter-initiated ballot measures are unknown in Mexico, leaving lawmaking solely in the hands of legislators — among the country's least respected players.
"We live in a country of lies," Bermudez said, "and a very mediocre democracy."
Cecilia Sánchez of The Times' Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.