Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Heather: Slip Sliding Away? More Polls Confirm Trend, Plus: Underdogs Get Some Attention, And: More Cool Stuff From The Campaign Trail From NM's Blog 

Somebody cue up that tune by Paul Simon; the one where he sings "slip slidin' away." Because that's what appears to be happening in the must-watch race for the ABQ congressional seat featuring GOP incumbent Congresswoman Heather Wilson and Dem Attorney General Patricia Madrid. We can peel apart the latest two polls on the race and find plenty of fault with them, but we can't argue with the clear trend; Madrid is ahead and something big--a big GOP get-out-the-vote drive--a national event that turns the tide toward the GOP or a big gaffe by Madrid--needs to occur. If not, the seat will likely flip to the Dems for the first time.

Now to the numbers. That Survey USA poll released by KOB-TV last night-- widely derided by the polling pros because it uses automated phone technology and does not pre-screen for likely voters--has Patsy pulling 53% to Heather's 45%. It was taken Oct. 13 to Oct. 15 and has a margin of error of 4.6%. Last month Survey USA had Heather leading 51% to 46%.

The RT Strategies/Cook Political Report numbers also give it to Madrid, 52% to Wilson's 44%. (Oct 8-10. Margin of error is 3.09%.) It also uses a computer interactive method, but it does make sure those called are on the registration roster and likely to vote.

What is the bottom line on these latest surveys? Dem pollster Harry Pavlides says: "I don't believe Madrid is ahead by these margins because the methodology is exaggerating the trend. But they do confirm the overall trend. The race is no longer a dead heat. Madrid is ahead, the question is by how much."

Maybe pollster Brian Sandeorff, in the field this week for the ABQ Journal, can sort it out. He will report Sunday. His late September poll had the contest tied at 44%. Sanderoff had the Dems and women coming home to Madrid and Republicans sticking with Heather. Those trends are intact in the most recent polls.


As for the campaign, it has grown stale. The omnipresent, annoying and overwhelmingly negative TV ads are basically the entire campaign. The monotony will be broken by the KOB-TV October 24 debate at which Heather hopes Madrid catches a severe case of foot-in-the-mouth-disease. Also expected to perk things up in the closing days are some big name visitors. Maybe former President Clinton for Madrid and perhaps former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Heather.

The race is not over. With U.S. House incumbents re-elected at a 98% rate, there is no way to call a race this close until actual votes are counted. But the race is now Madrid's to lose and if she does, it is going to be one heartbreaking evening for the state's majority party.


GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and Governor Big Bill are so far ahead of their opponents that they have refused to debate them on statewide TV. But the challengers--Al Kissling against Pearce and John Dendahl against Bill--have been given a break. KOB-TV has decided to give them free air time at 7 p.m. tonight to make their cases alone. It is an opportunity for both to make some news. Let's see if they do.


The other race besides Madrid-Wilson keeping the political junkies interested is the land commissioner face-off between GOP incumbent Pat Lyons and ex-land boss Jim Baca. The dynamic duo will meet in debate tonight on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ/Santa Fe.

The insider polls show this one close, with Lyons being urged to go after Anglo Democrats in the ABQ metro area who are a soft spot for ex-ABQ mayor Baca who needs to keep raising money to match Lyon's $300,000 plus final month war chest.


A sidebar to that bizarre flyer put out by R Treasurer candidate Demesia Padilla against Dem foe James B. Lewis, an African-American. It portrays Lewis as a puppet on strings being manipulated by Big Bill. (It's pictured on Monday's blog.) Never mind what it does to Demesia's chances, R's are worried what it might do to Heather Wilson. African-American ministers are calling for blacks to get out and vote for Lewis and against what they call blatant racism. If they get 500 or 600 more voters out and if Wilson-Madrid turns out to be a cliffhanger, it could be those extra Dem votes that could push Heather over the cliff. It wouldn't hurt Heather to get on the phone and do some lobbying to keep this blaze away from her door.


It was just before the June 2004 NM primary election when ABQ district court chief judge John Brennan was busted for coke possession and DWI and forced to leave the bench. Now, with just a few weeks before the Nov. 7 election, another judge is in trouble over snorting nose candy and is being targeted for removal. The state Judicial Standards Commission is asking the NM Supreme Court to end Dona Ana county Magistrate Carlo Garza's judicial career for snorting coke and not submitting to a drug test. The entire sordid tale is told in a lengthy report sent by a Santa Fe Alligator and which you can read here.


Pete Domenici doesn't have to look too far for inspiration if he decides to stick to his decision to seek re-election in 2008. Hawaii Dem Senator Daniel Akaka, a spry 82, recently won a stiff primary challenge and is expected to win another six year term next month. Pete will be 76 in 08', but can argue he is still a relative youngster compared to several of his colleagues who are obviously taking full advantage of today's longer life spans.


Another weird addendum to Campaign 06'. GOP U.S. Senate candidate Allen McCulloch was in an auto accident near Cuba in NW NM Sunday night. The Farmington urologist escaped uninjured, but not before pulling one of the victims out of a burning car, according to his campaign.

The McCulloch accident comes on the heels of the brutal attack on John Dendahl spokesman Paige McKenzie. (She is now in satisfactory condition.)

A Bingaman supporter emailed he was glad to hear McCulloch was OK, but could not help sniping: "It's the most press he has gotten all year." What, Jeff has been getting some lately?

And so it goes on the trail. Drop me an email with your latest political news from the link at the top of the page and help keep the politics rolling.

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