Thursday, October 23, 2008
Exclusive Blog Poll; McCain Still Breathing In Cruces Area, But Obama Ahead, Tinsley In Trouble; Teague Winning Big, Plus: White & Heinrich TV Debate
McCain & Teague
Why is John McCain still hanging around the Land of Enchantment? An exclusive poll conducted Wednesday night in the state's second most populous county provides one answer. The survey of 229 voters in Dona Ana County conducted for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan by Positive Contacts Consulting shows Obama below the magic 50% mark. He was supported by 47.6% of the likely voters there and McCain was backed by 43.2%. Tying or losing the county narrowly is key to McCain's last hope of winning the state. He needs to galvanizie rural and conservative voters in the south and hope Obama does not overpower him in ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Dona Ana is home to Las Cruces, but the city's approximately 86,000 residents represent less than half the population of the county which in 2006 was estimated at 193,000.
While Obama is below 50% in Dona Ana, Graham Bass of Positive Contacts says this represents only a very narrow opening for McCain. "McCain at least stays close to the margin of error in his gap with Obama, but to me this is a portent for an Obama clean-up in NM." The margin of error for the poll is + or -5.9 percent.
Dona Ana is 49% Dem. Kerry won it four years ago, but with only 51.26% to Bush's 47.69%, or just 2,214 votes. Obama hopes to do better, much better. If he does, the most important leg of McCain's southern strategy will be sawed out from under him. Our poll says Obama is on his way to winning the home of the Aggies, but he still has work to do if he is to run up the score.
The only prediction we made about the presidential race early on was that by the end of October the candidates would still be visiting New Mexico. Boy, we're we right. Plans have been finalized for McCain's Saturday visit. He'll double-dip, stopping in ABQ Saturday morning for a rally at the Spanish Village on the grounds of NM Expo. He will then go to Mesilla in the aforementioned Dona Ana County for a rally. Friday night McCain will knick New Mexico's Four Corners when he makes an appearance at a Durango, CO. high school. Tickets and info available through the McCain campaign.
Obama has decided to hold what could be his last major event here Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Johnson Field at the University of New Mexico. That will give them plenty of room to pack in the anticipated thousands who will attend. It's open to the public. Having the rally at UNM is a turnout play. Obama is going to carry the precincts around there with 70%, but they need lots of voters, not jut a big percentage win. We blogged earlier that there would be some high-powered entertainment, Hispanic style.
And let's not forget the gal who would be president--Hillary Clinton. We received a news release that said the former Dem prez candidate would be visiting "Southland Park, NM" Saturday. Of course, it is Sunland Park. We're sure the crowd will be loud enough to correct her, as she works them into a final frenzy and sends them off to early voting. Hill did Espanola for Obama earlier in the year and hit the circuit her for her own campaign. Light Guv Diane Denish needs to keep a room ready for her gal pal. She is one popular lady among NM Dems and not a few independents.
TINSLEY IN TROUBLE
The threat of a Democratic sweep of the state's three US House seats is no longer a plot line for Fantasy Island, but a very real, and some would say, a likely possibility. Our exclusive poll of Dona Ana County shows Democrat Harry Teague below the magic 50% mark, but drubbing Republican Ed Tinsley by double-digits. It's Teague 47.89% and Tinsley at 37.56%. We made 213 calls to likely voters.
Clearly, Teague is going to carry Dona Ana County. Longtime southern congressional district expert and Democratic consultant Harry Pavlides says if he does it by over 4,000 votes, the race should be Teague's. A six point win there, along with a tie in Teague's home county of Lea, would do the trick. But hold on. Maybe McCain's Saturday visit can help Ed. And don't forget Sarah Palin rallying the faithful in Roswell last Sunday. Or is it all too little, too late?
White & Heinrich
Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." It's been that way for the beleaguered Republicans this cycle, so it seemed almost normal Wednesday night when Darren White's microphone did not work for the first five minutes of his first televised debate with Democrat Martin Heinrich. His campaign for the ABQ congressional seat has been like that. White, on message, aggressive and looking for a game-changing moment, must have thought that the tables were being turned on him. But he's a former TV reporter and marched ahead into battle.(Complete video)
Behind in the polls--this Web site's exclusive Tuesday night poll shows him trailing Heinrich 52% to 41% in Bernalillo County which makes up over 90% of the district--White made the hour on KOB-TV a punchy and pugnacious engagement, repeatedly jabbing Democrat Martin Heinrich, who appeared a bit robotic, but gave more than coherent answers, depriving White of the game changing moment he was going for.
White must have had the knock-out punch on his mind. After all, the Alligators report he was prepared for the debate by none other than the woman he hopes to succeed--ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. It was in 2006, when Democrat Patsy Madrid had her famous brain freeze moment on KOB, that changed the dynamic of that election and gave Heather a narrow victory.
But that was then and this is now, and this debate was met with a curious lack of anticipation, perhaps because so many people have already voted; perhaps because it was up against game one of the World Series.
The real winner in the face-off was the Dem strategists who deprived White of a debate earlier in the campaign when it would have had much more impact. There is another tonight on KNME at 7 p.m. which will draw a light audience and a final one at 4 p.m Sunday on KOAT-TV that will draw an even smaller one. Meanwhile, many thousands of votes have already been cast as the Dem leads in the polls and many other thousands of voters who have already decided who they will vote for.
Repeatedly last night, a well-prepared White --Heather must be a good tutor--waved the tax issue in the air, pledging to "never" raise taxes. But frontrunner Heinrich, ahead and playing the cool Obama to Darren's hot McCain, reminded voters that recent tax cuts have benefited mainly the rich.
White also attacked on a variety of other issues--Heinrich's association with a "radical" enviro; his failure to initially take a stand on the Wall Street bailout--Heinrich finally said he would have voted against it--and Heinrich's alleged failure to support the troops in Iraq which Heinrich denied.
Darren threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Heinrich who responded flatly but confidently that it was time for a new cast and crew to steer the ship of state. White, steering with all his might, found out how hard it can be to turn a ship around.
READER DEBATE REACTION
From a Senior Dem Alligator: "Both are amateurs but Heinrich is more measured and White is pugnacious. The small format of television does not favor Darren. When Darren spoke at the Rotary Club the impression he gave was much better. He made a grave mistake by not campaigning in the spring....Their campaign managers should have checked the seating so that they could easily face the camera. Heinrich was more square with the camera and White less so. We saw a lot of White's profile with his jaw jutting out and looking either at the moderators or Heinrich. I blame the managers.
An anonymous reader: "Heinrich is getting whooped by White. I'm actually pretty surprised. Heinrich is stiff, and won't look at the camera. A real snooozer. The only thing more boring on TV tonight is baseball!"
Nino Jenkins wrote: "I voted for Darren for sheriff twice, but I can't support him to go to Washington and be an independent minded congressman. He has shown tonight that he is a lock-in-step vote for any and all Republican agendas. It's really too bad."
THE BOTTOM LINES
Veteran ABQ area politico Tim Cummins, fomer city councilor and current Bernalillo County Commissioner and GOP candidate for the ABQ Public Regulation Commission seat, draws some attention for taking campaign contributions that call into question how fairly he would regulate companies under PRC purview. Cummins is challenging PRC Chairman Jason Marks. The Dem is seeking a second four year term in the GOP leaning district. My insiders say Marks appears to be benefitting from the Dem trend, but the race is not closed out. Marks, an attorney, is on heavy radio. He also has scattered cable TV. Cummins has solid name ID. He is on the attack in the mail.
From Santa Fe, the Secretary of State reports: 169,500 New Mexicans so far have asked for absentee ballots. That's 89,213 Democrats, 60,548 Republicans and 19,734 independents. 61,000 votes have already been cast at early voting sites. Early votes will probably make up over half the votes cast this year. In Bernalillo County, it will be over 60% and maybe higher.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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