Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve 2008: Maximum Pressure Still On R's, And: Big Early Turnout; Our Analysis, Plus: Our Traditional Pre-Game Show Today at 5 On 89.1 FM 

New Mexico's great population center stands alone and unprotected from the Democratic troops stationed around its perimeter, preparing a final invasion Election Night to root out what is left of the Republican opposition. The defenselessness of what has been the home of the state GOP in the post WWII era is startling. Senator McCain will make his final NM stop today at 6 p.m. not in moderate ABQ, but in Roswell in Chaves County, in Little Texas--the heart of the social conservative wing of the party. McCain, even if he wanted to, could not save his troops here. On his last ABQ visit he could barely muster a crowd of 1,000.

Historically, New Mexican Republicanism has attracted swing voters and conservative Dems because of its economic views. In 2008, in the final hours, the R's have turned to their quasi-religious base. Nothing more need be said at how marginalized the state's minority party has become in the midst of an economic maelstrom.

If the state goes deep blue, as it seems it will, and chooses an all Dem congressional delegation as well as increasing the D's majority in the Legislature, we could return to the days when it was the two wings of the Democratic party--moderates vs. liberals--that provided the checks and balances while a feeble GOP lies dormant.

The economic devastation to the balance sheets of individuals has been colossal. It will not soon be forgotten. Religious and social conservatism works best when elections are about principles. But this election is about putting food on the table. You can't eat principles. If the Republican Party of New Mexico is not to wander in the wilderness for a decade or more, it will have to start feeding the voters what they need, not what a small band of them want.


It appears nearly 70% of the total vote in Bernalillo County and well over half the vote in the state will be cast early this cycle. We are forecasting a turnout of 75% of the registered voters in the county, or about 295,000. Over 192,000 early and absentee votes have been cast. That is 65% of our expected turnout. It will go higher with the remaining absentees. Dems have outvoted the R's in the early in-person voting by a big margin--126,744 t0 89,385. In the absentee, it is closer--31,881 Dems have mailed them back and 25,588 R absentees have been returned. About 90,000 absentees were mailed out here. It appears B. County Dems, for perhaps the first time, will cast more absentees than the R's.

Even if a candidate has a strong performance in the Election Day voting, if they failed in the early vote, they have their work cut out for them.

County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver managed to get the early and absentee posted early primary election night and she says she will do it again this Election Night. If she does, we will have a very good idea very early of what the night has in store.


Statewide we are looking for a turnout of about 850,000 or 72% of the 1, 184,000 registered. Will we be too low? The consensus estimate among the experts we interviewed has Obama taking the state with about 53% of the vote. Our turnout calculations say that would bring the Illinois Senator in with about 450,000 to the Arizona Senator's 400,000 or so, giving Obama a 50,000 vote win and our state's five electoral votes. Bill Clinton carried NM by 48,800 in a three way prez race in 1992. 570,000 votes were cast that year. Only once since we became a state in 1912 has NM not voted for the winner of the national popular vote. That was in '76 when we chose Ford over winner Carter.

Greg Payne
Over the years, or at least since 1999 when he won a seat on the ABQ city council, we have checked in with Republican Greg Payne for his predictions on upcoming elections. Payne, who has consulted a number of campaigns, has a good track record. Here's what he is saying on Election Eve 2008:

An electoral blow-out for Obama, but the popular vote is closer than most expect. Obama gets 353 electoral votes with 53% of the popular vote. McCain takes 185 electoral with 46%. Dems have a clean sweep of the federal delegation in New Mexico and pick up a handful of seats in the Legislature. The vote in New Mexico mirrors the nation: 53% Obama vs. 46% for McCain. Minor parties get just 1 percent. A bright spot for the GOP--Despite heavy Democrat turnout, Lisa Torraco wins the race for Bernalillo County district attorney over incumbent Democrat Kari Brandenburg.

Payne now works for ABQ Dem Mayor Marty Chavez as his director of transit. Torraco winning may be wishful thinking if Obama blows the doors off in ABQ.


It will be windy and cooler in parts of the state Tuesday, but no Election Day winter storm is forecast which could help the R's if one hit the north. Temps will be in the 60's for much of the state Tuesday, but we'll check again as the weather can change faster than a political pundit changing his mind. Back in 2000, a snowstorm that swiped conservative SE NM is given partial credit for Bush closing the gap with Al Gore. However, northern snowstorms are more common and they hurt the Democrats more than the R's.


Political insiders say anyone who has read a news article about the race for the northern Public Regulation Commission seat has probably been moved to vote for Green Party candidate Rick Lass over troubled Democrat Jerome Block, Jr. But the same insiders expect Lass to come up short Election Night. Lass will need a solid block of Republicans, independents and many, many Democrats to cross over and vote Green. However, many voters don't read newspapers and many have never hard of the PRC. Also, straight party voting for the Dems may be higher this year, enabling Block to score the victory. The anti-Block fervor is especially strong in Santa Fe. If Lass is going to pull off the upset, he will need a blow-out there.

In ABQ, PRC Dem incumbent Jason Marks is well-positioned. He is an incumbent in a district that was designed for a Republican. But he appears to have out-campaigned his R foe, Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins. Marks is also benefitting from the big Obama surge in the ABQ area.

Some top Dems fear a PRC, a very powerful agency that regulates the state's utilities, could be controlled by a troika of R's David King and Cummins and and Dem Block. That, they say, would be a five member commission that would tilt away from the consumer. Their fears seem to have subsided as Marks has pulled ahead in the insider polling


Reaction to that hit piece we posted Friday from the state GOP implying that Victor Raigoza, the Dem opponent of GOP ABQ North Valley State Senator John Ryan, is gay and "radical" for holding gay-friendly issues positions. Linda Siegel, who lobbies for Equality NM, writes:

Who is that NM Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Society that endorsed Victor Raigoza? We in the gay community have never heard of it and might like to join. Seriously though, the Republican Party has within its very midst "radicals" who want to tear down Republican values--radicals like Republican state representatives Kathy McCoy, Justine Fox-Young and Senator Diane Snyder. They support domestic partnership legislation for gay and straight people. Guess the big Republican tent is not going to be well decorated.


Don't have enough to think about? Make some space in your brain for this hypothetical scenario. Dem NM US Senator Jeff Bingaman is tapped by a President Obama for Secretary of Energy as is NM Guv Big Bill. Diane Denish has become Guv since Bill is now in D.C. She appoints herself to the Bingaman Senate seat. The governorship becomes vacant. The constitutional amendment on the ballot Tuesday that allows a governor to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor's office has failed to pass. There is no Light Guv. The Guv's chair, therefore, goes to the third in line. Good morning, Governor Mary Herrera. Now we're having fun.


Why haven't third party prez candidates like Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr caught on this cycle? We put the question to politico Steve Cabiedes, himself once a member of the Green Party.

"The more important people feel a race is, the less they vote a third party candidate...Also, you have to buy into the argument that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two candidates. When they fell there is a major difference between the two candidates they will not vote third party. The biggest selling point is that the two big ones don't offer you a real choice." Right now the two major parties seem to be accentuating their differences."

Barr and Nader and other third party candidates seem to be headed toward getting around two percent of the vote or about 16,000 ballots. Steve will be back with us Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM collecting early returns and providing analysis.


Today at 5 p.m. it will be time for our traditional, live Election Eve special on KANW 89.1 FM. The one hour broadcast will feature top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, Democrat John Wertheim, Republican State Rep. Larry Larranaga and ABQ Journal Washington correspondent Michael Coleman. We'll run down the key races and hear our panel's predictions so join us for the fun. The program will also be streamed on the Web.


We kick off our 20th consecutive year of anchoring Election Night coverage for KANW 89.1 FM Tuesday night. We'll be on the air early---around 5 p.m. to check the early national action. We'll start wall-to-wall coverage shortly after that. All of our pre-game show guests will be back and joined by veteran NM Democrat Lenton Malry. Jay Howard Deme will be at NM GOP headquarters and Democrat Heather Brewer will cover the Dems. We'll also have live reports from Government Center in ABQ where the votes will be counted. Steve Cabiedes will coordinate our exclusive early results from Election Day voting. Veteran Republican Bruce Donisthorpe has set up his own Election Central and will check in with his keen analysis of the state action. Kevin Otero will be our Election Night producer.

What an historic night it's going to be. You can catch us on the dial or on the Web where the program will be streamed from the KANW site. This is commercial-free programming so you won't miss any of the breaking action. The experience of my NM broadcast analysts is unmatched. All have more than 20 years experience in the game. KRQE-TV will have a camera in our studios to tap into what we are doing, so look for us during their coverage.

For a true understanding of what is happening in state politics, there is simply no place like KANW on Election Night. Thanks to Coca-Cola as well as ABQ's Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Bill Campbell Agency, Realtors and Serrano and Sons, Construction, for helping to make possible our pre-game show and Election Night coverage.

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