Monday, June 11, 2018

Dems Look To Broaden State House Playing Field In Wake of BernCo Turnout Boost, Plus: Does Monica Go? And About Those Primary Polls 

Dems are looking to broaden the playing field for state House seats in Bernalillo County in the wake of the increased turnout in the '18 primary last week. If they can keep the energy going they say the seats of longtime ABQ NE State Reps Larry Larranaga 80, and Jimmie Hall, 70, could be tested.

Those have been hardcore GOP mainstays but in a big blue year the margins of victory could be trimmed, setting up a takeover challenge for the high turnout 2020 presidential year or even an upset victory this year if certain factors come together.

The BernCo seats already on the Dem hit list are being vacated by Reps Sarah Maestas Barnes and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, with Gentry's seat seen as the most likely to tip to the D's.

The party seems to have several things going for it in its quest to boost turnout in November in the state's largest county. There is the strength of Guv hopeful Michelle Lujan Grisham, the chance for Dems to cast a history changing vote to elect Deb Haaland as the first Native American woman to congress and the unpopularity of President Trump in Blue Bernalillo.

Still, it will be up to Lujan Grisham and Senator Martin Heinrich, who is seeking re-election, to work together in a coordinated campaign to maximize those factors and deliver results in November.

The state House is narrowly controlled by the Dems 38-32 so even a pick up of a single seat would make a difference in policy.


There is another BernCo seat that the Dems are hoping to get a shot at. It belongs to Republican State Rep. Monica Youngblood who was arrested for aggravated DWI last month and who last week entered a plea of not guilty to the charge.

GOP insiders say there is a quiet effort under way to persuade Youngblood to leave the seat so the party can name a replacement candidate. But if she does not the Dems will pounce and probably have a good chance to take the contest. The video of the Youngblood arrest contains memorable and embarrassing moments that could easily be made into mailers and TV spots.

While Youngblood faces a DWI charge a number of readers point out that she does not act overly intoxicated in the arrest video. True enough. But her political problem may not be driving drunk as much as it is the hypocrisy of refusing to take a breathalyzer test, after being one of the leading advocates in the Legislature of such tests and making it even more punitive if a driver avoids one. That's what makes the Youngblood seat low lying fruit for the Dems--if she insists on staying in.


Here's a reader who thinks we were too tough on the polling in the ABQ congressional contest for the June 5 primary.

I would not be so hard on the early polls. The one for your blog by robocall was taken  May 23, and the ABQ Journal's was taken May 20th-24th. They were in enough agreement to infer that they had some validity. However these were taken two weeks before election day allowing enough time for much opinion change.  Moreover, there were large numbers of "undecided" in both surveys. In addition, there may have been some methodological "difficulties" with both surveys, such as only surveying those who had voted in previous elections, thus not catching the young, first-time voters.

Indeed, there was difficulty in catching those first-time voters, writes pollster and consultant Stephen Clermont on our Facebook:

Polling will be a challenge in an election like this. Of the early vote in the congressional contest, 17% of Dems didn't vote in either the 2014 or 2016 primary. Another 26-28% only voted in 2016.  Turnout was much higher, so if polls relied on regular midterm primary voters, they will be off. But if the pollster don't get the right group of new voters, they will be off too. There has to be a better way of scientifically evaluating these campaigns besides phone polls where only campaigns with a lot of $$ can afford to call cell phones.

If the Journal and the blog had polled the week before the election no doubt the surveys would have picked up the narrowing of the race and the momentum for Deb Haaland. But get this. We're told a Super PAC poll conducted in the days leading up to the election still had Damon Martinez up by two points and Haaland closing in. But she won by over 15 points. The polling model did not account for that influx of new voters which can, as Clermont says, throw the numbers askew.


Mayor Keller has wrapped up his first six months at the helm and former Dem ABQ City Councilor Pete Dinelli says the Alcalde earns a C grade for his maiden months. . .

Reader Frank Gilmer has the final bottom lines for this edition:

Joe, here's my prediction for Trump's reaction to the Deb Haaland candidacy: "She's no Native American, she's Dutch. Just look at that last name--Holland!"

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