Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trend Confirmed: Journal Poll Has Martinez Leading Denish by 6 points; It's 45% to 39%; Undecided At 16%; Analysis & Context Are Right Here 

Diane Denish has to call the Democratic party home or else she's going home--for good. That's the message in the first ABQ Journal poll of the 2010 gubernatorial contest. It shows Democrat Denish trailing Republican Susana Martinez 45% to 39% with 16% undecided.

It was the third major poll this month in this political poker game and Martinez has now laid down aces in all three.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff reported that with over two months to go until Election Day the Dona Ana County district attorney is claiming Hispanic support that is unusual for a Republican nominee. Denish is garnering only 44% of the Hispanic vote in the Aug. 23-27 survey with a margin of error of plus or minus three points.

This poll confirms what the earlier polls showed--Martinez has locked down GOP support. Combine that with about 20% support from Dems, a lead among all voters over 34 years old and a 38% to 32% lead among independents and she comes in at 45%.

Some exceptionally good news for Martinez came out of the ABQ metro where she led 45% to 39%. Even though Denish is a native of Hobbs, she has spent most of her adult years in ABQ while Martinez has never left Las Cruces.

Martinez put away the male vote--many of whom are R's--but it was a dead heat among women--42% for Martinez--41% for Denish--and that will be the battleground demographic in the months ahead.

In the Rasmussen Poll conducted Wednesday Martinez came with a five point lead--48% to 43%. And in a mid-August poll conducted by a statewide candidate and leaked here, Martinez had a 12 point lead over Denish.

While Susana can take a moment to smile over the results, she can't stop working. She remains far from the magic 50% level and it may not be easy getting there as Denish has a $2 million plus war chest to try to increase Democratic turnout in this mid-term election.


There is wind in Denish's face and it's being blown there by Big Bill. His approval rating in the Sanderoff poll is down to 33%, significantly lower than the 40% approval registered in the recent Rasmussen. And get this. Among Dem voters who don't like Bill 47% of them are voting for Susana.

In much the same way that Al Gore suffered in 2000 when he sought the presidency after serving under Clinton for eight years, Denish chafes under the pressure of Richardson.


Martinez, 51, is talking more moderate as she looks for the final five points that would give her the Fourth Floor. She has bended on the public schools budget and the Medicaid program, pledging not to cut them. She has also shied away from earlier support for school vouchers and is not talking as tough on immigration. If her conservative base holds steady, those positions can be amplified in the final months while still keeping a foot on Di's neck by reminding voters of the lieutenant governor's service under Richardson.

The Dems need to more sharply define Martinez and do it in a way that doesn't make it look like an Anglo woman beating up on an Hispanic counterpart. Di already is having trouble getting enough Hispanic votes.

There are already troubling signs for the Dems that voters may not be listening much to the negative about Martinez and are in a strongly anti-incumbent, throw-the-bums-out mood. Martinez has suffered body blows from several news developments, but they do not appear to have slowed her. Some of this can be attributed to ethnic voting. Denish, 61, must identify Martinez as too conservative for Hispanic and Native Americans so that those ethnic ties are diminished.

Denish also needs to start talking to base voters about the troubled economy. These are the lower income and less educated Democrats who may have come out and voted for Obama in 2008, but don't see the importance of this election. She will have to prove Martinez is a captive of the wealthy and of the same Republican Party that they rejected two years ago. And she will have to generate some emotion as she goes about it.

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