Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Large Martinez Lead In Mid-August Poll Revealed; Denish Has Hispanic Problem, Plus: Wanna Buy A Jet? And: Happy Birthday, Steve, Have A Waffle Cake 

GOP Guv hopeful Susana Martinez had a 12 point lead over Dem nominee Diane Denish in a mid-August automatic phone poll conducted for one of the statewide campaigns for another elected office, according to reliable Alligators. But Susana was below 50%, the point where a candidate starts to put a race away.

Martinez has consolidated the Republican vote and added to it a pile of independents. These groups are the ones expressing the most anger this cycle and have come home early. But Martinez is also benefitting from Hispanic support higher than usual for a GOP candidate.

Most of the undecided in the poll were women and Hispanics, groups that traditionally go Democratic. That's why despite the 12 point deficit Denish staffers have not been seen jumping out of windows. They see Denish as positioned to eventually pick up that vote.

Another tidbit from the poll. Harry Teague was running a couple of points ahead of Steve Pearce in the southern congressional race. Dem Rep. Teague, however, was not at 50%. He was doing well in Dona Ana County, the district's largest, which explains his lead. By the way, Martinez, even though Dona Ana is her home county, was not blowing the doors off there. Denish had a pretty good lead in the traditionally Dem area.

And more news from this poll. ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich was running a couple of points behind Republican challenger Jon Barela, confirming a surprising trend first seen in the SurveyUSA poll taken in late July that had Barela leading 51% to 45%. Jon was not at 50% in this poll and we are told by insiders that his own internal polling shows the race to be about tied.

Top Dems remain confident of Heinrich's prospects, pointing out that he has now started TV ads while Barela has not and also has a large financial advantage. They are also taking comfort because this race also has a lot of undecided Hispanics and Democrats who usually lean Dem, but in this unsettled climate are on the fence. Still, the unknown Barela could not be running in a better year for Republicans. Let's see what he can do with the wind at his back.

The ABQ Journal is in the field this week and will come this Sunday with their first poll on the Governor's race to be followed by the congressional contests. It should do much to give us a clearer picture on where the big races stand at the Labor Day starting gate.


Denish definitely has a white bread problem--she is a native of Hobbs in the SE and lacks a natural connection to northern Hispanics who have been instrumental in keeping the state Democratic.

Hispanic consultants are now telling us that it is too late for Denish to become well-liked in the north. They say she needs to use Hispanics running for lower elective offices such as county sheriff and assessor to carry water for her. That would mean hosting affairs for her at their homes and campaigning with her when she is in their areas.

Consultants, inside players and Alligators are now telling me that State Treasurer James Lewis and Attorney General Gary King are polling strongly in the north and could be used by Denish to make breakthroughs in the critical counties. They also urge deployment of area state legislators on Denish's behalf.

Denish, they say, suffers from an "approachability" problem in the north and it is also noted that no Hispanics are in the lieutenant governor's inner circle. Her campaign chairman is Ted Martinez, but he is an old school politico adept at fund-raising. She does have a Hispanic field director--Joseph Casados--who worked in the 2004 Kerry presidential effort.

Dem Lt. Governor nominee Brian Colon is not a native Hispanic, a point that was circulated widely in the Dem Light Guv primary. He is well-respected and liked by Dem Party types, but also lacks the longtime northern connection that can make a difference.

Martinez is performing well in the north in the polling. If she received 40% or more of the Hispanic vote it would be a superior performance and perhaps make her Governor. However, some experts say early Hispanic support for Martinez could be soft because she is only now being identified as a Republican. Also, some of that Hispanic support is based solely on her last name and could be turned as Hispanic Dem voters are told more about her.

The Denish campaign knows all of this and more. It is how they execute their northern Hispanic strategy that will be of critical importance in the closing two months of Campaign '10.

Denish's first negative TV attacks in June backfired. The ads had factual problems, but she also overreached. Denish's Hispanic base was not there and she was seen more as an Anglo woman attacking a Hispanic than as a possible future governor.

Denish is now treading carefully before unloading nuclear TV ads on Martinez. Her latest approach is to respond to Susana's negative attack and add a charge of her own, not initiate her own TV attack. We'll see what happens when we hit September.


GOP Guv candidate Susana Martinez is stepping on the populist pedal, coming with this billboard urging that the state's $5.5 million jet be sold to the highest bidder.

The jet and who flies on it has become a symbol for Republicans of wasteful state spending.

It kind of reminds us of 1994 when R Gary Johnson beat up on Dem Bruce King over an increase In the gas tax that Bruce supported.

Dem Diane Denish has also been getting more populist in her rhetoric, accusing Martinez of favoring "wealthy private schools" over the public system.


It's not only the R's coming with the graphics. Here's a "waffle cake" courtesy of the state Dems as they help former GOP Congressman Steve Pearce celebrate his 63rd birthday this week. The Dems are ribbing Steve over his waffling statements regarding partially privatizing Social Security.

But Pearce supporters say they expect to be the ones having their cake and eating it too, predicting that public polling to be released next week will show their man leading Dem US Rep. Harry Teague.


We think the Dems have a better chance enticing voters with their waffle cake than they do with this second negative TV spot produced against Pearce by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

Of course, now that we said that Teague will probably move up ten points.


Our Media Mavens report Guv contenders Denish and Martinez are still knocking heads over fall TV debates. None have yet been scheduled as the campaigns negotiate over details such as how late in the cycle they should be held.

All three Big Three affiliates--KOB, KRQE and KOAT--are expressing an interest in hosting a debate.

There is still plenty of time for posturing and we think we will end up getting some debates, but the intransigence over them.

A couple of months ago KKOB-AM radio asked me if there was cause for concern that there would not be that many joint appearances between Denish and Martinez. We answered that in the end we though there would be plenty,

We're beginning to wonder. We based our prediction on past experience covering Guv races the past several decades. Joint appearances at major event such as the Oil and Gas Association were taken for granted. In 1998, Gary Johnson and Dem Marty Chavez seemed to appear together on every street corner in ABQ. in 2006, Big Bill leading in the polls, refused to debate R John Dendahl, but we saw that as an anomaly. It would be a shame if there are only a handful of times we get to see Martinez and Denish together.

We aren't expecting a Lincoln-Douglas series from these two, but they owe us (and our democracy) more than a couple of cursory engagements.


As election forecasts grow ever more gloomy for Democrats, the R's are getting increasingly confident--and cocky. Here's a photo circulating on the net that drives the point home (no pun intended, really) and shows the Democratic donkey is definitely at the mercy of the Republican elephant.

Well, if only Republicans could have the election today. But the Dems say they are just getting started and the climax of Campaign 2010 will be in October, not August.

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