Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Really Big Bill: Clinton To Close Deal For Patsy; First Lady For Heather, Plus: Gobs Of Cool News From The Frontlines & Final Days Of Campaign 06' 

No one can energize the Democratic base better than Bill Clinton and he will work to do just that when he jets into ABQ Thursday evening to help Patricia Madrid close out her tight fight with GOP Rep. Heather Wilson. Where the ex-Prez will appear has not been released yet, but it will be open to the public.

Clinton has always drawn large crowds around here and this time won't be any different. The one possible snafu is a too late arrival by Clinton. If he gets here after 10:30 he will miss the crucial 10 p.m. news broadcasts. But Clinton, whose perpetual tardiness has been a running joke, knows the stakes are the possible control of the U.S. House and it would be surprising if he came too late to maximize his impact.

For Madrid, the Clinton visit could be redemptive and wipe away unpleasant memories for her supporters from her unsatisfying debate performance and from which came yet another Wilson TV hit Tuesday. Heather tore into Patsy for saying on the KOB-TV debate that contributions from lobbyists wins them access to politicians.

Clinton's main impact will be on Dems and getting them fired up and out to the polls. In a race that could be decided by hundreds of votes, not thousands, it is exactly what top strategists recommend. The ex-Prez is making the rounds in a bevy of close congressional battles. Wednesday he is in Tennessee campaigning for senate hopeful Harold Ford. It appears he will be coming to ABQ from Tucson where he will push the turnout buttons in another House battle.

The Clinton visit will gather the entire Dem ticket, including his former energy secretary and U.N. ambassador Big Bill, who will be demoted to Junior Bill while Bill Clinton is in town.

Analysts speculated that besides Madrid, the visit could be most beneficial to Dem land commissioner candidate Jim Baca who is locking horns with GOP incumbent Pat Lyons. Any lift in Dem turnout in Bernalillo county would help thwart Lyons in the battleground county which Lyons must carry in order to offset Baca's probable Spanish North landslide.


The announcement of Clinton's visit stole some of the thunder from the Wilson camp who earlier let it be known that First Lady Laura Bush will touch down here Friday to hail Heather. Unlike her husband, Laura polls better, appealing some across party lines.


Tracking polls, party polls and finger-to-the wind polls are circulating like a whirling vortex as they always do in the closing hours of a campaign. The Alligators have their eyes on all of them and believe the only major statewide race in play is the land commissioner battle. An extensive tracking poll shows none of the major GOP candidates yet moving forcefully ahead in Bernallio county as they must. As usual, undecided remain high in these races and will be mainly determined by party registration which overwhelmingly favors the Dems with 49% of the state's registered voters.

The lack of competitiveness of top tier Republicans for Governor and U.S. senate puts a damper on the hopes of the lower tier contenders. They would need significant ticket splitting to win in a year when analysts say straight Dem party voting may be significantly higher than usual. Also, pollsters say turnout will be lowest in the most conservative area of the state--the south--blowing more wind in the face of the down-ballot GOP hopefuls.

Still, R's have made inroads from the old days when 60% plus Democratic victories on the down-ballot races was routine. The insider track has Dem Gary King at over 50% and his GOP rival for attorney general, Jim Bibb, sitting in the high 30's, positioning King for a victory. R secretary of state candidate Vickie Perea, up against Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera, has spent heavily on negative mail, and now TV, and appeared to halt Herrera's earlier momentum in big Bernalillo county. But Herrera Tuesday went up with a TV response to stop any bleeding. She has been twice elected here by huge margins and will do well in the Democratic North. Dem Treasurer candidate James B. Lewis is on the traditional trajectory for a statewide Democratic victory and Dem auditor candidate Hector Balderas has pulled ahead of Lorenzo Garcia in Bernalillo county after buying TV time.


Based on the latest polling, history and assessment of the campaigns, all the Dem statewide candidates, excepting Baca, are poised for wins. Bad Election Day weather in the north would be the most likely event to tighten the races. In 1986 R Hal Stratton edged out his Dem attorney general foe when a big snowstorm struck there. But Stratton did very well in Bernalillo, not a circumstance that seems in the offing for the R's this year.

The last ABQ Journal poll of the season is being conducted this week with results to be released Sunday, giving us our final trend lines going into Election Night.


Besides hysterics over the polls, the usual cat fight over who is doing best in absentee balloting is underway. The latest numbers in Bernalillo county show Dem Ballots returned total 6,701 and GOP ballots returned at 7,058.

Total Dem absentee ballots issued in big Bernalillo thus far are 24,740 and 23,254 for the R's. (9.8% went to independents and others.) The GOP is pleased with its numbers, but they fret over the low return rate, about 30% for them and 27% for the Dems. Will many not return them, or are they stuck in the snail mail? Or are R's just not that enthused about voting this year? (The D's have never been champs in absentee, counting more on the actual Election Day vote.) We shall see when the final count is released.

Polling has showed the Dems, who outnumber the R's by 39,000 in the 1st District, sticking to Madrid. If that is reflected in the absentee voting, Wilson will not be able to count on them putting her over the top as she has in the past, no matter how many R's end up voting.

Another item to note is the kind of voters marking the ballots. A Dem insider reports: "As of late last week, of the individuals that requested absentee ballots in Bernalillo county, about 40% of the Democrats are presidential year voters and not mid-term voters. For Republicans it was only about 25%. So unlike the Republicans, our vote-by-mail program is boosting unlikely Democrats and getting them to vote."

If the Dems end up not scoring better in absentee ballots, some serious questions will be raised about all the money spent on the program.


This being the week of nervous breakdowns and Prozac overdoses, even more skittishness is being expressed. This time it's over those long lines at early voting sites in the ABQ area. Voters are waiting up to several hours to cast their votes using the all-new paper ballot system. Some of them are walking away without voting. Are most of them D's or R's? Ask the worry warts.

The all-paper system is the cause for the lines, not a huge surge in voter interest. It takes longer to mark the two sided ballot than working the touch-screen machines that were previously in use at the early sites.

All the worry over the insider baseball issues will form the foundation for the blame game sure to follow in the aftermath of Campaign 06'. Unlike predicting winners and losers with certainty, everyone can call that event with 100% accuracy.

Election Night coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM, anchored by your blogger. The pre-game show is at 5 p.m. November 6 on the same station. Please join me for all the excitement of Campaign 06'.

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