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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Post Labor Day Political Scene: Setting the Odds On All The Big Races, Plus: As Predicted, Flynn Is In  

Let's take a look at the betting line now that Labor Day has come and gone and the November 8 finish line has come into sight. . .

The odds of the Democrats taking back or tying up the the NM state House goes to 51 percent, up from even money. The reason is the coolness of many R's toward their presidential candidate. Any drop off at all in GOP turnout--a rare occurrence--could be deadly for R's further down the ballot--like House candidates.  We'll know more as we get closer but as of today turnout is more of a concern for the R's. That's why the line gets tipped slightly toward a Dem tie or takeover. The House is currently 37-32 with one vacancy. That vacancy is a Dem seat, taking us back to 37-33 Republican where we started the year. So it's two for the tie and three for the show.

The odds of the Democrats retaining control of the NM Senate remain high--very high--at 80 percent. There are simply not enough seats in play for what would be an historic GOP takeover of the chamber. Also, Gov. Martinez's growing unpopularity--her approval rating is down to 43 percent in the August PPP Poll--will serve as a drag. And then there's Trump. As with the House, the danger is that enthusiasm is dampened more on the R side than for the Dems. And then you have the much higher turnout for the presidential election than an off year election which makes the GOP play for the Senate more of a talking point than a realistic chance.

The chance of Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver defeating Nora Espinoza for the open Secretary of State position starts at 53 percent. The latest PPP poll has Oliver defeating Espinoza 42 to 35 percent. The history of the seat being in the Dem camp and higher Dem turnout in the presidential year give the Dems the upper hand. Still, because this is the only statewide executive office on the ballot this year it will get plenty of media attention, giving Espinoza the opportunity to run an effective negative campaign.

Heavy Hispanic support tips the scales for Michael Vigil in his bid to win a seat on the state Supreme Court against Republican Judy Nakamura who was recently appointed to the high court fro fill a vacancy. Vigil, a star Court of Appeals judge, will have to fend off Nakamura in her home territory in Bernalillo County where she is popular after serving for many years as a local judge. But again it's Trump. A blowout--or strong win--in BernCo by Hillary would send shock waves down the ballot where Vigil and Nakumara reside. We put the odds at Dem Vigil taking the seat at 55 percent. History is helping set those odds. No Republican has been elected to the NM Supreme Court since the 1980's. But this remains a race to watch.

The chance that Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump in New Mexico is 85 percent. Every national organization that has access to insider polling puts the state in the deep blue column for the Dem nominee. Not that she is hugely popular here. The August PPP Poll shows her getting only 40 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Trump. The wild card is former NM Gov. Gary Johnson. The onetime Republican is again running as the Libertarian Party nominee. He was scoring an impressive 16 percent in the Aug. PPP survey as a result of dissatisfaction with both major candidates. But that number will come way down as the race focuses on Clinton and Trump. Clinton's strength in the cities--ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces--keep the state colored blue when it comes to the Prez contest.

FLYNN IS IN

Our Alligators broke this one to the state way back on August 1 and it was confirmed in a Friday afternoon news dump:

Former Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn is taking over as executive director of the NM  Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the lobbying arm of one of the state’s most politically influential industries. . . The move, which was decried by conservation groups critical of Flynn’s record. . . comes less than one month after Flynn stepped down from his Cabinet position. It also comes despite Gov. Martinez’s pronouncement. . .that her Cabinet secretaries would refrain from lobbying for at least two years after leaving state government. . .A spokesman for the Association said Flynn intends to honor an agreement not to work with the Environment Department for two years. That agreement does not include lobbying legislators . . .Flynn does not intend to register as a lobbyist during the coming legislative session and will instead rely on other staff to lobby lawmakers.

Goof luck, Ryan, Don't let that revolving door hit you on your way through.

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