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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Weeks To Go And Observers Eye Turnout, Plus: Dems Outflanked By Martinez On Public School Cuts 

Let's take a stab at a question that's puzzling some observers. It's this: Early voting this year is soaring compared to the same time four years ago so does that mean we are headed for a record turnout?

Probably not but we're not headed into the cellar, either.

We've been on a a long-term uptrend when it comes to early voting. In 2012 in Bernallio County early votes--in person and absentee--accounted for 68.5 percent of all ballots cast.

Early voting just keeps getting more popular and we don't see the trend ending this year. We could see upwards of 75 percent of the vote cast early. That means there will be fewer voters left to got to the polls  on the actual election day November 8.

In 2012, about 784,000 New Mexicans voted for president. Pollster Brian Sanderoff predicts this year the total vote will be similar. With no major statewide races like Governor or US Senate on the ballot (no, secretary of state does not count) we think that prediction will be in the ballpark. There will be a spike in turnout in the handful of hotly contested legislative races but that is not going to have a major impact on overall turnout. There are far more districts where there is no legislative competition.

Democrats are so far outpacing Republicans in early voters and that has the Dems cautiously optimistic about their bid to take back the state House from the R's. Look at this and ask yourself if it is happening here:

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

It is really the Republican nightmare for R's like Sandoval County state Senate candidate Diego Espinoza who is trying to unseat Dem Senator John Sapien. He can't afford to shun Trump but if he embraces him he loses middle of the road support. That GOP dilemma is also playing out across the other legislative battleground districts.

SHE'S VENGEFUL

Reader Del Chavez comments on the Guv's political machine launching that big TV buy to take down Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez:

She's vengeful just like Trump. She has accomplished nothing as governor. All NM neighboring states are out of recession. Instead of doing her job she releases her corrupt little dog. The first female Hispanic Republican governor is missing in action during this presidential race. That speaks volumes. Adios Martinez, your political career is over by your own pendejeras (lack of character). 

OUTFLANKED

She may be missing in action in the presidential race, but Martinez still often gets the best of the Dems. For example, this is why the Dems were urged by their base to not cut public school spending as part of a budget balancing deal at the recent special legislative session:

(Gov. Martinez) used her line-item veto authority to spare $22 million in proposed cuts to K-12 initiatives run by the Public Education Department from the chopping block, saying the cuts would have gutted programs like free meals for students in high-poverty schools and stipends for teachers who perform well on the state’s evaluation system.

The Senate Democratic caucus issued a statement before the special legislative session saying they would not support cuts to the public schools to resolve the budget crisis but they didn't keep that pledge. Now the Governor is making them out to be the bad guys as she poses as the steady, moderate hand protecting poor students.

Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, dean of the austerity hawks, pushed for the school cuts, ignoring pleas that he find other areas to shave. Now he's howling that he has to come up with $22 million in cuts at the January session to make up for Martinez's veto. When will they ever learn?

THE BOTTOM LINES

This isn't the first time we had trouble with this and probably won't be the last. Reader Cliff writes:

Joe: Surely you mean in Monday's column State Senator Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, not the former US Senator from Colorado Tim Wirth.

Correct. And Senator Wirth himself explains:

Tim Wirth is my uncle who served six terms in the US House and one term in the US Senate from Colorado between 1974 and 1992. I have been in the legislature for twelve years, two terms in the state House and two terms in the state House.

Take that for what it's wirth.

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