Monday, October 06, 2008

NM Back In Spotlight: McCain Today; Pelosi Tuesday; Prez Race Analyzed From All Angles, Plus: Kari & Lisa Clash Anew, And: D Triple Play For Congress? 

McCain & Speaker Pelosi Back To ABQ
Just when you thought they had forgotten us, they're back. Today John McCain is in ABQ; tomorrow US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the Duke City as New Mexico resumes its role as presidential battleground, even as polling shows Obama with a healthy lead, but not necessarily an insurmountable one. But does John McCain gain on Obama by going to the heart of Obama country--the University of New Mexico--for an afternoon rally today? The Alligators--who broke the news here that McCain would be in NM sometime this week--pointed out that the UNM area is locked, loaded and ready to fire for Obama. Isn't a 1:15 p.m. stop at the Student Union Ballroom akin to General Custer riding into the Little Bighorn? Why not put McCain on ABQ’s West Side or near NE Heights where his chances of persuading voters still on the bench are much better? Perhaps because he has to get out of here quick and needs to be close to the airport? If logistics are outweighing voter appeal, the campaign needs to take a deep breath.

Today's visit is one of those "by invitation" events, which means protesters and would-be hecklers will have a hard time getting into the SUB to heckle McCain, but if McCain was going to pick a spot where a Republican would find plenty of foes, it is a university campus. Dems have announced a campus news conference and voter registration rally to coincide with the visit. Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in the November 4 election. (Tickets to McCain available starting at 8 a.m. only at: McCain Headquarters 5643 Jefferson Street NE Suite B & C, ABQ.)


McCain's NM campaign could be reacting to the doomsday scenario---he loses Bernalillo County by over 15,000 votes, Obama performs well in the Spanish North and there is nowhere left for McCain to make up the difference. Going to UNM could be aimed at dampening down the Tsunami forming in that area which could produce the fatal votes against McCain, but you can't stop a bursting dam with a twig, and going to UNM provides the Dems and Obama camp the easy opportunity to organize protests and make the media. But McCain bills himself as "The Maverick" and by stopping in the heart of the enemy he is certainly living up to his self-described billing.

McCain comes here on the heels of the first ABQ Journal NM Prez survey showing him trailing Obama 45 percent to 40 percent with 14 percent undecided and 1 percent going to minor candidates. The good news for McCain is that he is not further behind given the dismal economic news and the state's Dem registration advantage. The bad news is he is still poised to lose the state unless there is a game-changing event. Given the course of the campaign, the odds of such a happening may not be too far fetched.


Still, the dagger hanging over McCain here is the Bernalillo County math. Obama's organizational presence here is huge, and there are signs that the most dangerous saying in politics and stock market bubbles--"This time it's different"--could actually be true. The difference in 2008 being an upswing in youthful voters enamored with Obama, boosting his inner city vote in ABQ to the point that McCain is a goner.

The Arizona Senator is currently losing the metro area--defined by the Journal and pollster Brian Sanderoff as Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia counties--by a margin of 51-34. The number sounds about right for Obama, but perhaps a tad low for McCain. The margin of error in the survey is 3.8%. Again, we see this race crystallizing around the crucial question of Bernalillo County. Kerry thought his nearly 11,000 Bernalillo vote win over Bush in 2004 was enough to protect him from the southern rural onslaught, the conservative suburbs and a so-so northern showing. It wasn't. He lost the state by 5,998. Polls say McCain can't quite match Bush's 2004 superior performance outside of ABQ, so if Obama takes the state's largest county by around 15,000 or more (out of about 280,000 cast), it is game set and tennis matches on the White House lawn for Obama.


The Hispanic numbers in the Journal poll were gratifying for the Dems, if not yet conclusive. Obama was ahead 62 to 17 with 21% undecided. McCain may get most, but not all of those still unsure. But Obama will get his share and that would mean he would improve upon Kerry's 62% Hispanic showing here. More important is the turnout among Hispanics. Obama would win the battle but lose the war if Hispanics give him 68%, but Hispanic turnout remains as low as for Kerry. Which raises a question--perhaps for the northern press and the campaigns to look into--What are the Catholic churches in the north saying about Obama and his stands on abortion and gay marriage? Obama hopes, that unlike four years ago, they aren't saying much of anything.

Obama's Espanola visit two weeks ago was a deft step. He may travel north one more time in the final month, but the first order of business will likely be ABQ and boosting that turnout that would shut the door with finality on McCain. Second, is keeping the Hispanic north moving slowing but surely his way, and third is Dona Ana County where a quick visit close to Election Day should be enough to seal the deal.


McCain still needs to head south and boost enthusiasm and turnout in the southern congressional district where out-performance for an R Prez candidate is mandatory. Sanderoff separated out "Little Texas" in his polling this year. The Journal did not list the counties, but we have them as including Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt. McCain is leading that mainly conservative area 64 to 23. The rest of the southern district, including Dona Ana, has McCain ahead 50 to 30. McCain is leading, but like Bush, he will need to blow the southern doors off if Obama surges in big Bernalillo.


The percentage of undecided in the Journal poll--14 percent--is much higher than other surveys, and that's to be expected, but still raises questions about turnout and the effect of race on the contest.

Most of the Prez polling has been conducted by automatic telephone surveys which push for an answer. The Journal poll interviews likely voters over the phone, getting a clear read on the undecided. But 14 per cent is quite a bit with early voting starting this week. There's a lot of Democratic Anglo voters among them. Will some of them not vote in the Prez race? How many will vote for McCain? The ratings for the first TV debate between Obama and McCain were lower than expected, another reason some think that voter turnout might not be quite as high as anticipated. It is something we simply can't know for sure until Election Night.


Not much to analyze. The ABQ Journal poll on the NM US Senate race between Dem Tom Udall and Republican Steve Pearce confirms Udall's lead. It's Tom 51 percent to Steve's 36 percent. Undecided is 13 percent. Pearce is in the unenviable position of having to win over just about all the undecided vote. Udall carries his home north by a stunning 75 percent. Not much to add to that. We'll keep you posted.


Recent polling suggests the once unthinkable--an all Democratic NM D.C. delegation. The Journal will soon come with congressional district polling, expected to hold good news for ABQ congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich as well as southern Dem contender Harry Teague. KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson and I took a look at the possibility of all five members of the delegation going D. We had an all R NM delegation for a brief time in the early 80's. The Dems haven't held all of the state's federal seats at once since '68.


We're pretty sure US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks forward to being here tomorrow to watch the next presidential debate and fete Martin Heinrich at a fund-raising reception at the home of ABQ developer Gary Goodman. Mother hen Nancy would love to have three NM chicks to show around the Capitol and, of course, have them vote to keep her as Speaker. (Click on image of invite to enlarge.)

We thought we saw Northern Dem hopeful Ben Ray Lujan, the surest Dem winner of the NM bunch, thoughtfully mentioned in one of the e-mails going around about Nancy's visit. The House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, recently held a big fund-raiser for Ben Ray in Martin's home district, creating the impression that perhaps Ben Ray was getting a bit of special treatment from the House powers-that-be. If so, it will be more than made up up to Heinrich with plenty of nurturing from Nancy, Light Guv Diane Denish and other "Women Leaders" who are hosting what is billed as an "elegant reception."

Southern hopeful Harry Teague need not come around to pay his respects to Nancy and Company, although he could. The less the conservatives in the south are reminded that Harry and liberal Nancy would set up house together in D.C. the better.


The race for Bernalillo County District Attorney featuring two astute players is heating up and bursting into the headlines. Thursday Republican Lisa Torraco got the front-page splash she wanted as she hammered Democratic incumbent Kari Brandenburg over the DA's conviction rate. Friday Kari suffered another hit as her handling of a notorious double murder was called into question. Torraco took advantage and scored some TV time in addition to badly needed ink. She has also continued to hammer away with paid radio which you can listen to here.

We haven't seen any paid media from Kari yet; she has more financial resources than Lisa who last reported raising in the area of $50,000. Kari can be expected to come with TV ads and in your mailboxes soon. Torraco may or may not have enough for a TV buy that makes a difference.

Brandenburg is going for her third term after being unopposed for her second one four years ago. That is a long stint and the baggage can pile up. She has benefited from a friendly press and this year a seemingly big Dem trend in Bernalillo County. The race, on the front lines of crime fighting in a community riddled with crime, deserves high-profile play, but it is competing with many other high-profile races, putting more pressure on Torraco to get her message out against a well-known incumbent who only now is being asked to defend herself.


CQ Politics is one of the more conservative Prez ratings services. They've just switched NM to "lean Obama" from "no clear favorite."...Reader Ellen Wedum continues our coverage of the Wall Street bailout with this comment: "The second bill the Congress passed just adds more pork. I am disappointed in both Senators Domenici and Bingaman. It does NOT provide for any accountability, and it does NOT provide a way to pay for the $700 billion. A return to the corporate tax levels of the 1950's is needed to pay for this, not more national debt."

The ABQ Journal called NM's Senators "statesmen" for voting for the bailout. Were those the "statesmen" who loaded up the bailout bill with $150 billion in even more spending? The Journal faces off with the New Mexican on this one...

Thanks, Ellen. News? Comment?
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