Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dem Tsunami Turns to Puddle: R's On The Move In Rasmussen; McCain Up By 2 Here; Pearce Closes to 7 Behind Udall; The Numbers & The Analysis Right Here 

The Democratic tsunami is turning into a puddle and if the Dems aren't careful they could suffer an electoral drought in this crucial swing state. The latest weather report comes from the Rasmussen poll taken Monday and which shows McCain besting Obama for the first time this year. It's McCain by two--49% to 47%--a statistical dead heat. And McCain--or maybe we should say Sarah Palin--brought along underdog Steve Pearce for the ride. The GOP US Senate contender is now just seven points down to Dem Tom Udall--51% to 44%. On August 20, Udall was at 51% but Pearce was at 41%. The Hobbs oil man has picked up three on the favored Udall, finally making it a single digit race. However, among "likely voters" Rasmussen shows less change. Last month Udall led 52% to 44% among that group. He now leads among likely voters 51% to 44%. Still, the story has been Pearce's momentum. Now we wait to see if and when it hits the wall as many experts suspect it will.

The McCain camp, knowing they are benefiting from a post-GOP convention bump and the selection of Palin as their Veep candidate, moved to take advantage. "The momentum is really shifting over to McCain-Palin," crowed McCain NM finance director Ken Zangara, who also revealed to us that he will host Mitt Romney at his ABQ home September 30 to raise money for Pearce.

The new survey was enough for Rasmussen, who last month showed Obama beating McCain here 48% to 44% with leaners included, to move NM from the “lean Dem” category to "toss-up." Welcome aboard, Mr. Rassmussen--we've been expecting you.


A huge surge by McCain among independents and a mediocre showing by Obama among Hispanics are the key reasons behind the GOP surge, according to the poll's cross tabs which were generously purchased for us by the Alligators.

Obama scores only 47% among Hispanics in the poll of 700 likely voters that was conducted by automatic phone calls and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4%. No wonder the Dem Prez hopeful is heading to the Spanish North on the 18th and no wonder Caroline Kennedy is visiting there the 26th.

Those fickle independents apparently fell in love with Sarah Palin and the bipartisan message McCain delivered at the GOP convention. They flocked to him by a margin of 65% to 24% in this survey. There is surely convention "bounce" in there, but that was of little comfort for Dems. They were busy changing out their tsunami surfboards for knee high boots to cope with the mud of the highly charged and negative campaign now certain to come.

Pearce also benefited from an independent surge, if not as much as McCain. The southern NM congressman scored 50% of them compared to Udall's 38%. Last month Udall had 48% of the independents, compared to Pearce's 39%.

Pearce was ahead among men by one point, but Udall had a big lead among women. The northern NM congressman scored 53% Hispanic support, six points better than Obama and Pearce garnered 41% among Hispanics, one point less than McCain.


The key question now is where Pearce goes from here. Hammering Udall over energy policy in numerous TV ads has helped Pearce consolidate the Republican base and make nice inroads with independents, but women still resistant to his conservatism are key. They are keeping Udall above the magic 50% mark and still the favorite to take the prize.

But a seven point lead is a far cry from the heady days of July when Udall was so far ahead--by nearly 30 points--that Pearce needed a telescope to find him. Now Udall has been given an official wake-up call. Also, the media, more or less hands-off on this contest, is now going to get in it. There is going to be more pressure by them and the public to see these two candidates sparring together. The coyness about confrontation emanating from Udall may be challenged more vigorously. He remains the solid favorite, but no longer has "sure thing" for a middle name.

The Pearce polling was especially poignant, coming as it did on the heels of the news broken here Tuesday that Pearce and his supporters were more than upset that he was not permitted to speak at the McCain-Palin ABQ weekend rally. Those who made that decision have some serious egg on their face. KOB-TV's Dyson has confirmed our Alligators' take with the Pearce camp. (Video analysis of the Rasmussen poll and Senate campaign with Dyson here.)

And don't forget Darren White and Ed Tinsley. The Republican US House candidates were among those relishing the GOP's move in the Rasmussen poll. After all, in ABQ, Dem Martin Heinrich, is counting on a huge Obama showing to help carry him to victory over Darren. Not that that couldn't still happen. But basing a campaign strategy on it now looks as relevant as an eight track tape player.

As for Tinsley, he may benefit the most from a GOP surge which is sure to be strongest and more permanent in the conservative south where he faces Dem Harry Teague in what is turning out to be a spirited battle.

Watching from the sidelines and now under increasing pressure is Big Bill. Obama needs him to shore up the North, but we're getting the same vibe we did with Kerry. Values voters in the North are not aglow over Obama and the underlying issue of race still lurks. Richardson has his work cut out for him. Meanwhile, Bill's approval rating from Rasmussen remains worrisome.

"Gov. Richardson earns good or excellent ratings from 45 percent of voters in New Mexico, while 29 percent say he is doing a poor job. Those ratings have slipped slightly since last month."

That's well below the 50% mark, raising the question of how much muscle Bill has to bring Obama the votes he needs.

None of the polling results we've discussed today is a huge surprise. The Alligators for months have been saying they see the US Senate race as a five or six point deal and favoring the Dems. And they nailed this state as a toss-up months ago, despite the protestations of the far-out partisans on both sides of the aisle. But it's like a hurricane. No matter how much warning you get, when it hits, it changes everything.


My Gators are working overtime for you and come with more breaking news regarding Obama's September 18th NM visit. Obama has now added an ABQ fundraiser to his schedule hosted by Governor Big Bill at the home of his friend and Downs at Santa Fe owner Paul Blanchard. The afternoon reception is going for $2500.00 per person and includes a photo with Barack. They are also asking for big money givers to put up $28,500 each which would be shared with the Democratic National Committee.

(The previous well-past-Midnight-post made possible by a grant of several cases of caffeinated "Zero" Coke that may last to Election Night, but probably not. Eddie Lopez and the gang at Coke say they are standing by to refuel us. Between them and Starbucks, we've got you covered. Thanks to all my sponsors for making the blog possible!)


The readers are chomping at the bit to get their thoughts in on this hyperactive political year. We are definitely overdue in going to the mailbag, so off we go.

Talk radio pioneer and longtime Dem Mike Santullo gets us started by calling on the NM Obama campaign to "answer the wake-up call" and schedule events for Caroline Kennedy's upcoming state visit that average income people can access.

Whether this Kennedy likes big crowds or not is not the issue...get her in a small crowd for free...Obama needs to appeal to Mr. and Mrs. Wal-Mart, not the caviar crowd. We need to be talking hot dogs and hamburgers, not caviar. Add an event for her that is not an expensive gathering of Santa Fe liberals...put here at a community center--even a small one--if security is an issue. The schedule of big money fund-raisers for her is not how you campaign in northern New Mexico.

Santullo is not the only Dem worried about the North under performing for the Dem candidate as it did four years ago.


A Senior Alligator of the Dem variety, not easily impressed, checks in from the campaign trail.

I saw (Dem congressional hopeful Martin) Heinrich speaking at the Economic Forum. His delivery was excellent and he hit his alternative energy, economy, and Iraq war talking points skillfully. In the question and answer period he dealt extensively with the drilling now vs. alternative energy, water availability and No Child Left Behind issues. He spoke for about 25 minutes and took questions for 10 minutes. I was impressed.

Something so nice about a candidate? We must be getting soft letting that get by. More from the reader email bag and an update of the latest political news right here tomorrow.

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