Sunday, October 31, 2010

GOP Wave Splashes ABQ: Barela Pulls Ahead of Heinrich; Journal Poll Has Martinez Set For Big Win; Pearce Over Teague By 3; Chandler Closes On King 

Jon Barela
The national wave of voter discontent is finally splashing into Albuquerque. The latest ABQ Journal poll has Republican Jon Barela pulling ahead of Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich--49-46 with 5 percent undecided. The survey was a dramatic shift from a late September Journal survey that had Heinrich leading attorney Barela by seven points--48-41. The poll renewed GOP hopes that the ABQ congressional district, taken from the R's in 2008 after they had it for 40 years, could be reversed. However, the margin in error in the poll taken among 402 voters Wednesday and Thursday is five percent. The race could still go either way.

We could be in for a cliff-hanger Tuesday night or a comfortable Barela win if the momentum stays with him in the final hours. The Journal did not release the crosstabs on how the Heinrich-Barela race was going among those who have already voted.

"The race is too close to call," said veteran GOP lobbyist Bruce Donisthorpe who has also conducted New Mexico polling the last several cycles. "It's a turnout game now and that's why both parties have been so focused on that in recent days."

We've had the race lean Dem, but it now moves to toss-up. The Dems are going to have to fire up their base for Tuesday to pull it out. The R's and angry independents are already on fire and voting.

In 2006, then-GOP US Rep. Heather Wilson escaped defeat by less than 900 votes. Democrat Patrica Madrid nationalized that contest over the war in Iraq. Now comes Barela and his allies nationalizing this contest over federal spending and health care policy. In recent days, Barela has accused Heinrich of supporting stimulus funds for expansion of a local bar, a charge that Heinrich has said has no foundation. The ad seemed aimed at critical independent voters who are now trending toward Barela.

For his part, Heinrich earlier came with a powerful ad featuring a senior citizen exclaiming that she doesn't trust Barela on Social Security and fears he would vote to privatize the system. Barela denied the charge and found support in an endorsement from the ABQ Journal. Heinrich, however, leads among voters 65 and older--those who receive Social Security.

Heinrich is scoring 60 percent among Hispanics compared to Barela's 34 percent. A Democrat needs to do better.

The 2010 race appears to have been nationalized since the last Journal poll by the immense money from third party groups. Such groups supporting Barela have pumped in well over $2 million in TV and other media. Dem outside groups have backed Heinrich with much less--some $645,000, according to a recent Washington Post report.

Heinrich has worked hard to carved out a local record to immunize himself against attack on unpopular national Dem policies but is appears his campaign headquarters is getting sprayed by the anti-Obama, anti-Washington Tsunami that is taking Dems down coast-to-coast.

Meanwhile, down south Democrats were heartened by a better than expected performance by US Rep, Harry Teague. Republican Steve Pearce led, but only by three points.--48 to 45. However, pollster Brian Sanderoff said among those who have cast early or absentee ballots Pearce has a huge lead--60 to 36 percent. Teague needs a big Democratic turnout on the actual Election Day Tuesday if he is to retain the seat. This contest is lean R.


The Governor's race remains dead money, with Republican Susana Martinez sporting a ten point lead--52 to 42 over Dem Diane Denish. In the late September Journal poll, the Dona Ana County District Attorney held a six point lead--47 to 41.

Denish has been sitting in the same position for months. Martinez can start forming her transition team. This cake is baked. The poll of 1,003 has a margin of error of only three percent. Martinez was leading in all geographic regions, except in the north-central patch. There's really not much left to say.

But there is plenty more for voters to say about the race for attorney general. What was a 20 point lead for incumbent Dem Gary King a month ago has now shrunk to 10 points over hard-charging Republican and Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler. King is over the magic 50 mark.

His lead now is 51 to 41, but most of the undecided can be expected to go to the challenger. Chandler's attacks on King's support of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants has been a key part of his campaign to bring down the AG.

This is going to be another exciting race to watch when we take to the KANW 89.1 FM airwaves Tuesday night at 6:30.

Sanderoff and the Journal did not poll the heavily Democratic northern congressional district, but his findings elsewhere have to be worrying the camp of incumbent Dem US Rep Ben Ray Lujan. He is still the favorite to beat Republican Tom Mullins, but in this atmosphere all incumbents are on the defensive.

As for other down-ballot races, the Journal polled only attorney general. But the Republican strength we are seeing will be a definite threat to weakened Secretary of State Mary Herrera. Dianna Duran is the GOP nominee for the job and may be a step closer to taking it as independent voters are trending Republican. She would be the first GOP SOS elected since 1928.

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