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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Big Bill: How Popular? Parsing The Polls, And: Nancy Pelosi's Undercover ABQ Trip, Also: Even More From The Campaign Trail 

He may not have to face the voters again, but for a variety of other reasons Big Bill and his operatives were quick to seize upon the good news offered up by an ABQ Journal poll showing that 61 percent of "likely voters" approve of the job Bill is doing as governor. In dismissing previous out-of-state surveys showing his approval rating considerably lower, a Bill acolyte dubbed the Journal a "real" poll and dismissed the Rasmussen and SurveyUSA numbers that had shown the Guv's public image slipping.

The Journal survey conducted Sept. 29 thru Oct 2 found that 61 percent approved of the Guv's job performance, 26 percent disapproved and 13 percent were undecided. That contrasts with a Rasmussen Survey from early September. At that time we blogged:

"Gov. Richardson earns good or excellent ratings from 45 percent of voters in New Mexico, while 29 percent say he is doing a poor job. Those ratings have slipped slightly since last month."


So what's the deal? How can there be such a large disparity in the approval ratings? It is explained by those who specialize in such things that the Journal poll is picking up truly "likely voters" and the Rasmussen and SurveyUSA polls which showed the Guv's job rating below 60 percent are picking up less likely voters. They say these less likely voters and citizens not registered follow the news less closely and can be more whimsical in assessing the performance of public figures. Likely voters also tend to have higher incomes and higher education levels. The specialists say when you use automatic phone surveys you can't screen out non-voters or unlikely voters as effectively as with in-person telephone interviews which the Journal uses.

If likely voters are all that matters, the Guv's seems to be doing well. Among the public at large, it's fair to say that he remains a generally positively viewed politician, but not overwhelmingly so.

BILL'S JOB

Richardson, serving his second four year term, doesn't have to face NM voters again, so his popularity rating in that regard is irrelevant. But he is on the hunt for a job in the Obama administration and appointing a popular governor to a top job is a lot easier than one who dwells in the ratings cellar. A high rating also gives Big Bill some body armor from those who will be competing with him for those top jobs and perhaps shooting arrows his way.

If the Guv's is still here in January when the 60 day legislative session kicks off, a perception that he remains popular among likely voters could help him with his policy proposals. However, as one lawmaker explained, his rating may not matter much to the Legislature. "After six years, we're tired of dealing with him and he's tired of dealing with us."

CHECK IN THE MAIL

The state rebate checks approved by the Legislature and Governor and based on a projected oil and gas surplus started to get mailed this week, but with oil and gas prices crashing, not a few lawmakers are worried that the state can't afford to give out the money. The Guv says the situation merits watching, but we aren't seeing anyone stopping the money from going out.

NANCY'S HIDEAWAY
Pelosi
The third most powerful government official in the USA was in ABQ Tuesday night, but unless you were at a high-dollar North Valley fund-raiser that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended on behalf of ABQ congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich, no one would know it. For the most part, the media let the visit pass without a mention. The only notice that she was even in town was on your blog where we posted the fund-raising invite leaked to us by the Alligators.

KRQE-TV was one media outlet that did make an effort to get a comment from Nancy. They staked out the debate watch party she was attending with Big Bill, Light Guv Denish, Senator Bingaman and other Dem party heavies. But she was whisked in and out of the home of developer Gary Goodman without a peep.

The station and others asked us what the deal was--why was Nancy hidden away like a pearl in an oyster? As we told KRQE, the main reason was probably because we have two close NM congressional races featuring a lot of undecided conservative Democrats. Martin Heinrich is winning 65 percent of the Dems in the Journal poll in his race against Republican Darren White. The Dems remaining on the fence are of the ABQ conservative variety. They don't especially take to San Francisco liberal Nancy. Double that notion for the southern congressional seat where Dem Harry Teague is neck and neck with Republican Ed Tinsley and who needs solid conservative support to put him over the top. On top of that is the unpopularity of the current Congress and Pelosi--both have cellar-dwelling approval ratings.

White might have been able to squeal some over Pelosi's visit for Heinrich, but his back is against the wall in this race, and criticizing any member of the district's majority party probably carries more risk than its worth. Without the press forcing the issue, the woman who helped engineer the largest economic bailout in history and who help sets the agenda for the USA was able to much on some New Mexico treats, be regaled by the likes of Big Bill and Lady Di and disappear under the cover of night without any inquiring minds disturbing her. Such is the disconnect in these bizarre political times we live in.

EAST'S DIRECTION

A supporter of northern GOP congressional candidate Dan East e-mails in questioning the Journal's poll of the north showing Dem Ben Ray Lujan garnering 41 percent of the vote to East's 18 percent and independent Carol Miller's 14 percent. The margin of error in the poll is the largest ever seen for a Journal survey--8.9 per cent--and had the East backer questioning why.

That is a whopper of an error margin and would kill the credibility of a survey conducted for the ABQ or southern congressional districts, but up north where Dems rule the survey is not in much danger of getting it wrong. Lujan's lead is still outside the large margin of error. However, that begs the question as to why the newspaper simply did not interview more people for the northern survey and also why they decided not to do any polling in the red-hot southern congressional race. The answer is money. Polls are expensive and the newspaper, like other businesses, is feeling the economic pinch. The Journal traditionally does three election polls in the big years, but will only do two this year, with the second and last one expected close to Election Day. The irony is that in the biggest political year in modern state history, polling coverage is shrinking, not growing.

THE BIG NIGHT

Can someone break open the tight southern congressional race tonight? It is the big night for Republican Ed Tinsley and Dem Harry Teague as they take part in a televised debate that will be aired across the state and nation. It kicks off at 7 p.m. and runs an hour. It will air on KRWG-TV in Cruces, and KNME in the ABQ area where it will also air on KANW 89.1 FM. C-SPAN will televise the debate nationally.

Tinsley is sure to try to pigeon hole Harry on his position on gun ownership. That's the only TV ad Ed has up against Harry. It is on that and other cultural issue the Republican hopes the race will turn, but the big issue--the economy--is breaking the Dems and Harry's way and we expect him to drive the point home tonight,.

The debate tonight is part of the New Mexico First series of congressional town halls. They tell us they would like to get more response for its northern congressional town hall next Tuesday at Rio Rancho, so here is the info if you would like to attend. The northern TV debate will take place at 7 p.m.

Northern New Mexico Town Halls, October 14, 1-5 pm; TV forum 7-8 pm Town Hall Hall and Debate: Rio Rancho High School (CD3 candidates: Ben Ray Lujan, Daniel East, Carol Miller)

The TV debate will air next Thursday on KNME-TV at 7 p.m.

LINING THEM UP


Take a look at this from the Obama NM campaign. If these are Obama votes they can get to the polls, it is going to be a pretty big deal.

Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change (CFC) announced that it surpassed its goal of registering 30,000 new voters in 30 days. Statewide, CFC registered more than 35,500 new voters from September 7th to October 7th, the voter registration deadline.

POPULIST PEARCE

GOP US Senate candidate Steve Pearce comes with this new ad touting his opposition to the massive Wall Street bailout. This is a more assertive, louder-voiced Pearce, pushing a populist agenda. The ad faults "greedy corporations" for the economic calamity. Trouble is, his Dem US Senate opponent, Tom Udall, also voted against the bailout. Pearce benefits some but not nearly as much if Udall had been on the opposite side of the fence.

THE BOTTOM LINES

The AP is starting to hit with its candidate profiles. Here's the Martin Heinrich brief and the one of Darren White. It sure seems Darren is getting outspent on the tube by the Heinrich campaign and its third party allies....Sheriff White announced Wednesday the union that represents his deputies has endorsed his candidacy. So has the ABQ Police Officers Association. White is trying to deflect a powerful TV ad from the Heinrich campaign that points out that when White was head of the state department of public safety, the NM State Police Association gave White a vote of no-confidence because they thought White wasn't providing officers with adequate equipment and cars...

Longtime NM lobbyist and attorney Dick Minzner e-mails in on the $700 billon Wall Street bailout. "...The purchase of old loans in the hope this will result in new loans being made seems like indirect trickle-down lending. Would the money not be better used to make new loans...?"

Meantime, will someone at one of the upcoming TV debates ask Martin exactly how he would have voted on the $700 billion bailout? He never has answered. It is probably just an oversight and he is really welcoming the question. You think?

E-mail your news and comments and help us cover Campaign '08.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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