Wednesday, October 22, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Our Bernalillo County Poll: Obama Well Ahead; Heinrich Leads White; Also: Obama To ABQ Saturday For "Huge" Rally; McCain & Hill Also To NM 

Obama & Heinrich Lead Poll
Barack Obama is still headed for a healthy win in the state's largest county and Martin Heinrich is well-positioned in his bid to become the first Democrat to ever win the ABQ congressional seat. Those are the findings of a poll commissioned by "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan" and conducted Tuesday night (Oct. 22) by Positive Contacts Consulting.

In the state's most populous county Obama is leading McCain 55.05% to McCain's 37.05% with 7.90% undecided. Graham Bass of Positive Contacts calls the 18 point lead "huge" and that McCain's remaining hope is for a major surge in southern NM.

If Obama were to indeed take the county by the poll's 55%, that would give the Illinois Senator a huge margin here of 29,000 votes. That would position Obama to take a good shot at reaching 53% in the statewide total.

However, history shows the Republican will close. Still, this poll of 772 likely voters by automatic phone calls with a margin of error of 3.65%, confirms the trend of other surveys taken in the county. Republicans are desperately trying to crack the race open, arguing that there is movement, but this poll shows none away from Obama in crucial Bernalillo County, welcome news for the Dems with early votes being cast by the thousands and Election Day 13 days away.


My Alligators confirm that Barack Obama will move to close out his New Mexico '08 campaign effort with a "huge" rally in Albuquerque Saturday night. Tentative plans also call for him to stay overnight. The rally will likely have a Hispanic flavor, a bid to appeal to the key Democratic voting block that appears to be closing ranks behind the first African-American presidential candidate. We are hearing a rally of time of about 9:30 at night, which could put Obama live on the 10 p.m. Saturday news and for sure the front pages of the widely-read Sunday papers. (Our inital report confirmed

Dems hope Obama's rally, combined with an intensive get-out-the-vote effort here, set him up for a blow the doors off win that prevents McCain from making a move, even with a strong rural showing. Obama is also heavily outspending McCain on NM TV, making it even more difficult for McCain to shake up the contest. But he is giving it the college try.

The Arizona Senator's campaign confirms he will be in Mesilla, in southern Dona Ana County on Saturday afternoon. TV news is reporting McCain will also stop in Durango, Co. Friday night. That visit will give him exposure into the Four Corners and conservative San Juan County. McCain's last chance for victory is an unlikely replication of President Bush's 2004 rural strategy in which he landslided places like Lea County with over 79 percent of the vote. Now late word has McCain coming to ABQ Saturday morning before heading to Mesilla as he works to catch Obama here. It's getting wild again around here.

The experts now say the problem is that Obama is running stronger than John Kerry in ABQ, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. He also appears to be getting a better turnout among northern Hispanics than Kerry, meaning even if McCain matches Bush's southern rural perfomance, he would still lose.


The Obama campaign will send Hillary Clinton to Sunland Park, NM, about a half hour south of Las Cruces, on Saturday. That should help counteract McCain's Messilla visit. Kerry won Dona Ana by a couple of thousand votes in 2004, but Obama may be headed for a bigger win there. We will get an idea exactly how big tomorrow night when "NM Politics with Joe Monahan" in conjunction with Positive Contacts polls the county.

But the big final stretch event promises to be the Saturday night Obama ABQ rally. Even at a late hour, it can be expected to draw thousands and rock the state. It is reminiscent of Bill Clinton's 3 a.m. ABQ stop on Election Morning 1992. That, too, was a year when change was on the political menu and the fervor of the Democratic base was as intense as its ever been. If Obama only equals that enthusiasm, he will be in good stead as the finishing line finally comes into sight.


He could be the unlikeliest of winners Election Night. Democrat Martin Heinrich was not given much of a chance in the early analysis of his race against Republican Darren White for the ABQ congressional seat. But that's all changed. And how. First the ABQ Journal poll showed Heinrich ahead by two points. Now our poll shows Heinrich with a significant advantage and a good chance of becoming the first Dem congressman from the ABQ district.

In Bernalillo County, which makes up well over 90% of the ABQ House district, Heinrich leads White 52.20% to 40.63% and 7.16 undecided. If Heinrich stayed at that 52% level Election Night, our experts project it would translate into a countywide win of about 11,000 votes, more than enough to offset the remaining rural votes in Torrance, Santa Fe, Sandoval and Valencia that are available to White. Even a Bernalilo County win in the area of 6,000 should be enough to seal the deal for the former ABQ city councilor.

The risk is that Obama weakens in Bernalillo County. Heinrich is being pushed along like a cub bear of Obama's. If mama bear falters, so do the cubs. But Obama, as our Tuesday night poll showed, remains solid. His Saturday night visit should make him more so.

White is not finished, but he needs an aggressive close, perhaps something during this week's TV debates to backfire on Heinrich. With the Journal poll showing a Democrat in the lead in late September for the first time in history, plus the fresh findings of our survey of 726 likely voters, the ABQ race can safely be moved from the "toss-up" column to the "lean Dem" category.


We thank our advertisers for their financial support which made possible the commissioning of our poll. And we aren't done yet. Thursday we'll have our exclusive poll of Dona Ana County and the hot congressional race in the south, plus the Presidential race there. In the coming days we will also tell you how ABQ Mayor Chavez is doing with voters, as well as Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish.

Exclusive analysis. Exclusive polling. It's why "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan" continues to set the standard for political coverage in the southwestern USA. Thanks for being with us now and through the years!


Could total early voting amount to as much as 70 percent of the total votes cast in Bernalillo County? County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver thinks so. She says 55 percent of the county's vote was cast early and absentee in 2004 and she thinks 70 percent is likely this year. If that happens, Election Day voting ought to be a breeze. More importantly, thousands of votes are being banked while the Dems lead in all the polls. The R's could start to close in the days ahead, but the winning votes may have already been cast. Traditionally, Election Day voting attracts a more Democratic crowd. This time my experts say it could be more balanced because so many more Dems are now voting early.

This new early vote math demonstrates the importance of having campaign momentum going by mid-October. Won't it be fun this year to compare the early and absentee results with the people who cast their vote on the actual Election Day?


Martin Heinrich and Darren White face-off for their first televised debate tonite at 7 p.m. on KOB-TV. We'd like your thoughts for Thursday's blog, so after watching the ABQ congressional candidates, send us an e-mail and let us and your fellow readers know who you thought won and why.


This time from the Los Angeles Times.


For your edification and amusement we present a llama for Obama, direct from Corrales and the camera of Janet Blair...


Make sure to join us on Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM for comprehensive coverage. We'll have the state covered from end to end for our 20th year of consecutive coverage on the public radio station. Top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland will be back as will former Democratic Party chairman and attorney John Wertheim who is an expert on NM congressional races. With the Dems threatening to take two seats they haven't held in decades, his expertise will be especially valuable. GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga will do another tour with us as well. If you can't catch us on the radio, we'll also stream the program on the KANW Web site. We look forward to being with you once again and will have more details as we get closer.

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