Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Standing With Susana; Guv At 52% Approval Six Months In, Plus: Balderas Lives To Fight; Has Solid Cash Count; Heinrich Maintains Money Lead 

They aren't blow-the-doors-off numbers, but a Republican governor scoring a 52 percent approval rating in a majority Democratic state isn't cause to cry in the corner either. And that's where Susana Martinez stands--at 52%--after six months in office, according to the Dem polling firm PPP. Her disapproval is at 37%. In a February PPP poll taken after she had been in office only one month Martinez's approval rating was at 52%.

Perhaps most importantly voters are showing no signs of having buyers remorse:

(Martinez) would win a hypothetical rematch with opponent Diane Denish by a 53-44 margin, actually a little bit better than the 7 point spread she won by last fall.

The Dem firm, perhaps throwing a grenade into the GOP theater, gushes euphoric over Martinez as a possible 2012 GOP Veep pick because of her solid polling performance in our little 'ol blue state. Before they get too carried away it should be noted that Martinez's popularity can't be called enduring. Also, it has yet to be challenged with the kind of withering criticism that can take a politicos numbers down faster than a roadrunner crossing the interstate. Then there is the easy going press coverage. Big Bill also got that during his first couple of years

The two displays of gubernatorial authority that have burrowed into the public imagination--and not just those of the political classes--has been the February natural gas emergency and the Los Alamos fire which was burning when this poll was taken. By most accounts, she performed ably.

Her first legislative session--the sixty day confab that was quickly dubbed a do-nothing session-- also did her no real harm.

Dems are frustrated that the state's fragile economic situation is not inflicting more damage on Susana who has really not talked about it much. But the public seems of a mind to blame national political leaders more than local ones. Still, 52 percent is only a couple of points above the magic 50 percent level. And her popularity is not growing. Maybe economic woes are capping her in the low 50's. (The MOE for the poll is plus or minus 3.6%).

One other thing. Martinez's approval from Hispanics is 49%. That's some ten points better than she did with them at the polls last November. There's ethnic pride in the first female Hispanic Governor in state history and that is serving to extend her honeymoon.

By the way, ex-Governor Big Bill's approval rating is a rock-bottom 27 percent. Not that Susana will necessarily be gloating. Now that she has the job she can see the basement below her as well as the ceiling above.


PPP also polled the popularity of the state's congressional delegation June 23-26, finding outgoing Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman winning 58% approval. Dem Senator Tom Udall came in at 48%. That's a little lower than he'd like, but Jeff is not in the 60 percentile region where he routinely lounged. Voter discontent with the national scene is across-the-board.


Balderas & Heinrich
Both Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas turned in solid fundraising reports for the April quarter, with Hector needing it more than Martin and delivering. There will be no early knockout of the young State Auditor--even though Heinrich has a nearly two to one cash in the bank advantage--$700,000 to Hector's $370,000.

Heinrich, 39, reported raising $485,000 in the quarter. That's nothing to sneeze at, but Balderas, 37, beat expectations and came with $400,000. He did not announce his candidacy until April 26, missing three weeks of fund-raising.

Balderas' campaign says he did not loan himself any money to reach the 400k level. However, Alligators analyzing the reports say that Heinrich, who has been raising money since Senator Bingaman announced his decision to retire in mid-February, had about 2,200 donors in the recent quarter to Balderas' 1,000. That could mean Hector pushed many of his donors to give the maximum donation allowed for the Senate cycle so he could make a splash now. We won't know for sure until the official reports are made public at mid-month.

(GOP US Senate contenders Heather Wilson and John Sanchez have not released summaries of their latest quarterly reports. Greg Sowards earlier announced he has loaned his campaign $150,000).

So now what? Well, Balderas needs an encore. He passed the initial test but the exam is far from over. The pressure will now be on to show that he did not just pick the low-lying fruit to make his first reporting number. Those results will come in October. Still, he gets credit for getting it done. It takes organization and discipline to raise the kind of money he did and those are two traits that are also needed to become an effective US Senator. The Wagon Mound native may find in the coming months that money begets more money.

Also, don't think that Susana Martinez and company aren't carefully watching Hector's performance. Remember, if for some reason he should falter in the Senate contest, he could use his federal money to run for a state office. And he's already won the two terms he's allowed as state auditor. We're just saying....

As for Martin, the two term ABQ congressman has shown he can get into the wallets of New Mexicans, but can he get into their hearts?

That Heinrich could not take out Balderas early shows there is a yearning among some Dems for new faces--especially Hispanic ones. The rural and ethnic appeal of Balderas remains a challenge for Heinrich who is the front-runner, having more money in the bank and a 47-24 advantage in the first public polling in the race from PPP.

But Balderas has put some heat on here and Heinrich, a Nevada native who grew up in Missouri, needs to continue to run a mistake-free campaign and make sure he doesn't get dubbed the carpetbagger in the race. Obviously, some of the natives around here are restless and history says it is dangerous for a lone Anglo Democrat to be challenged by a lone Hispanic Dem.

We could see this Dem Senate race get a little edgier now that bigger money is on the table. For example, will Heinrich try to make Balderas be more specific on the issues of the day? Maybe on something like abortion, where Balderas may have a more conservative view than Heinrich?

And Heinrich will be tested as well. The ability of the relatively untested Balderas to keep his candidacy going and give Heinrich a run for the money signals that one thing hasn't changed when it comes to winning a seat in the United States Senate--no one is going to hand it to you--you have to earn it.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

We welcome your advertising and for a limited time have special summer rates. E-mail us for details, as well as your news and comments.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign