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Monday, July 25, 2016

New Mexico's Presidential Blue Streak Seems Likely To Continue As Dems Gather In Philly To Nominate Clinton; Three Big Counties Here Are Key For D's; Possible Turnout Drop Would Give R's A Ray Of Hope 


Here's the map of the 2012 New Mexico presidential results and as Democrats gather today in Philadelphia for their national convention it's hard to see how it will change significantly in 2016.

Obama won here four years ago, garnering 53% to Romney's 43%, with Liberation nominee Gary Johnson scoring 3.55%. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who is again on the ballot this year, managed only a fraction--0.34%.

The three big prizes in state politics--Bernalillo, Dona Ana and Santa Fe counties, are all solidly blue when it comes to national elections. Combined with die-hard Northern Dem Hispanic counties, that's where Hillary Clinton should win the state's five electoral votes.

The Trump candidacy is volatile and difficult to predict. Winning here is very much an uphill climb, but Trump (and Johnson) could keep Clinton from reaching Obama's 53 percent 2012 performance. She does not generate the enthusiasm Obama did and she also has to deal with a disappointed progressive wing who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary. 

Another factor is turnout. For us the first clue that turnout could drop below the 2012 presidential mark of 783,756 was the TV ratings for Trump's acceptance speech. Many of us expected them to soar but:

Trump's acceptance speech averaged 32.2 million viewers. . . Mitt Romney's GOP acceptance speech in 2012 averaged 30.3 million viewers. Eight years ago, John McCain's speech averaged almost 39 million viewers, "about 8.6 million more people than last night's viewership," Nielsen said,

To us that signals some Trump fatigue. The ratings for Clinton's acceptance speech could also see a similar ho-hum pattern as both candidates are unpopular with a majority of likely voters.

Trump would benefit from any dip in turnout but it would have to drop dramatically for him to get the race anywhere near in play.

THE JOHNSON FACTOR

So what about former NM Governor Johnson? Could he make a difference here? It's doubtful.

That 3.55% of the vote he received here four years ago was his strongest statewide performance in the nation. If history is true to form Johnson is headed toward another low single digit finish here. Early polls usually show the strongest support for third party candidates but that support fades as the election nears.

Rather than a rush to third party candidates, we lean toward the view that many voters fed up with both Clinton and Trump will opt out of voting, leading to at least a slight dip in turnout. Still, there will be more third party power this year.

If Johnson doubled his 2012 NM performance he would get 7.1 percent. If you're betting the "over-under" on him, we would put the early line at 6 percent and most of that would come from conservatives which will hurt Trump more than Clinton.

Will he average 15% in the national polls leading up to the presidential debates and be allowed on the TV stage? The short answer? No.

WHAT HURTS HILLARY

Here in a in a nutshell is why Clinton will have a harder time driving turnout than Obama:

What is it about this brilliant and accomplished woman. . .that makes so many people certain she is an incurable liar? More than anything else about Clinton – her occasional tin ear for politics, her seeming inability to connect with large crowds, her ultra-cautiousness – it is the trust issue that could yet cost her a general election she should otherwise win, given her opponent’s vulnerabilities.

How much we see of Hillary, if any of her, is uncertain, given that the state does not have swing status anymore. But her newly minted running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, might be a natural for a New Mexico stop or two:

The son of a welder who owned a small metalworking shop, Mr. Kaine, a Roman Catholic, grew up around Kansas City, Mo. He attended a Jesuit school and took a break from law school at Harvard to spend time as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, an experience that his family has said shaped him and helped him become fluent in Spanish.

TRUMP DOWN BALLOT

Expect to see the Dems try to exploit Trump's unpopular stances with their brethren in every race possible. In fact, it's Dem Linda Stover, running for the way down ballot race of Bernalillo County clerk, who is among the first out of the gate and playing the anti-Trump card in a fund-raising letter:

Thank all of you for your support during a very contentious primary. . . It's such an honor to be our party's nominee. . . Now it's time to turn our attention to the party of Trump. This Fall, we are absolutely going to sweep New Mexico's swing races, but it's not going to happen without your continued help and support.

No R has been elected county clerk in decades but Dem candidates are going to trot out Trump not jut for votes, but for cash. Mary Ellen Ortega-Saenz is the GOP BernCo clerk candidate.

THE DEM DELEGATION

The Lujans
NM is sending 43 delegates to the national convention this week, with 18 pledged to Clinton and 16 to Sanders based on the June primary results that Clinton won 51 to 48.  The other 9 are the super delegates, comprised of the state's congressional delegation and party leaders. They are all backing Hillary.

Here are the biographies of all 43 delegates.

Both Lujans in the congressional delegation--Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and ABQ's Michelle Lujan Grisham--have been given speaking slots at this week's convention, a nod to the importance the Hispanic vote will play nationally this fall.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016
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