Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Exclusive Poll: Kari Leads Lisa In Hot DA Race; Heinrich Maintains Lead Over White, Plus: Gay Bashing In Ryan Senate Race, And: More NM Politics 

Democrats are still dancing in Bernalillo County but with an outside chance that their party could be disturbed by an upset Election Night. The only major race in which the Democrat is not polling above the 50% magic number is in that down-to-the-wire, hit-or-be-hit battle for district attorney. Our exclusive poll conducted Thursday night among 403 likely voters shows two-term incumbent Democrat Kari Brandenburg beating Republican Lisa Torraco. Kari gets 48.9% to Lisa's 43.3% with 7.8% undecided. The margin of error is 4.88%.

Torraco has hammered Brandenburg over her handling of several high profile cases and earned extra attention from the ABQ Journal which endorsed her this week. But Brandenburg has several TV spots in heavy rotation on the broadcast networks while Torraco is up on cable TV and radio. Brandenburg loaned her campaign $70,000 to close out the race and that could make the difference. The Democratic trend, exacerbated by straight ticket voting, may mean the race is out of reach. However, Torraco is close enough to justify working it hard all the way to the finish.


There is only a minor change in the race for the ABQ congressional seat in our latest poll conducted by Positive Contacts Consulting using automatic phone call methodology. New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan asked 418 likely voters in Bernalillo County who they would vote for. 52.8% said they support Democrat Martin Heinrich and 43.9% said they would vote for Republican Darren White. 3.3% were undecided and the margin of error in the poll is 4.85%. The poll was scaled to reflect 48% Democrats, 36% Republicans and 16% Independents.

In our October 21 survey, Heinrich was polling 52.20% and White 40.63%. As is traditional, the Republican candidate is picking up strength in the final days, but based on these numbers the race remains "lean Democrat." White is expected to beat Heinrich substantially in the rural portion of the district, but if Heinrich wins Bernalillo County by two points or better it should be enough for the win. 

The sheriff unleashed his most negative assault yet against Heinrich this week when he came with an ad linking the former ABQ city councilor to a radical enviro. The ad is in heavy rotation, but the Heinrich campaign, as of Thursday night, has chosen not to respond with an ad of their own. Our poll indicates the ad has not dramatically improved White's chances, but there are several days to go. 

The district has never gone Democratic and has delivered surprises in the past. Expect the race to move more toward White on Election Night, but Heinrich remains positioned for a win of two to four points. But don't bet your adobe ranch house on it.


Our poll showed no major change in the Bernalillo County races for president or US Senate. Obama was polling 57.0% in the state's largest county; McCain came in at 39.6% and undecided was at 3.4%. In the Senate battle, Dem Tom Udall scored 59.5%; Republican Steve Pearce had 36.5% and 4% were undecided.

We were blindsided by the crafty Bush NM '04 strategy when he lost Bernalillo County by nearly 11,000 votes, but came with huge rural totals and won the state by about 6,000. We don't see that repeating. Our view is that Obama, while not neglecting areas outside the metro, can put the race away by doubling the Dem '04 winning margin in big Bernalillo County.

A winning margin by Obama of over 20,000 here and even if McCain matched Bush's impressive 2004 performance elsewhere, the race would be lost. In other words, a Bernalillo County blow-out would cover any number of campaign sins elsewhere.

If Obama falls short here, we will be in for a longer Election Night as we look to the outlying areas to decide. If early in the evening you hear Obama has carried Bernalillo County by 20,000 or more, he is going to carry the state. The magic number for him here is about 54%. Based on our projected turnout of 75% of the registered voters, or 295,000 ballots, 54% would give Obama about a 24,000 victory margin in the county. As you saw, in our poll Thursday night, he was at 57%. Statewide Obama may get his biggest percentage of the vote in Taos and Santa Fe counties. His lowest will likely be in Lea County in the SE.


Guys with gray hair talking New Mexico politics on TV.

Thanks to our advertisers for making possible our two polls, and thanks to you for supporting them.


The NM GOP is being charged with gay bashing as a bare knuckled street brawl breaks out in the final hours over the ABQ North Valley state Senate seat held by Republican John Ryan. The state party came with the piece of literature posted here (click to enlarge) that implies that Ryan foe Victor Raigoza is gay and supports gay groups and causes.

"Not only is Victor Raigoza endorsed by radical groups, he actually belongs to them too. Raigoza is a member of the Equality New Mexico, a group that promotes the gay and lesbian lifestyle."

Raigoza, a financial consultant who ran against Ryan, a federal lobbyist, four years ago, had his campaign come with this statement:

"Victor is a proud Democrat who supports human rights for all people, no matter what their sexual orientation. We at the Raigoza campaign find it very sad and disturbing that an incumbent State Senator doesn't think that. Once again, the Republicans are using divisive scare tactics that are clearly a desperate attempt for Ryan to retain his seat when the people of District 10 know that his record of failing us has caught up to him..."

The piece was put out by the R's, not Ryan directly, but one wonders how New Mexico gay and lesbian groups are going to react. It's been quite a while since the way they choose to live their private lives has been fodder in a political campaign. Making a fuss now could be what the R's are hoping for. The Raigoza camp believes the lit piece was probably targeted at conservative Dem Hispanic Catholic households.

John Ryan, win or lose, is going to be hearing more about this one--in New Mexico and maybe nationally. His district which extends into Rio Rancho is not known as a hard-right area and John has had a reputation as a tolerant and understanding public servant. He overcame a youthful criminal record to take the seat in 2004. He asked voters for forgiveness then and they gave it to him. If the R's and Ryan are asking voters to judge Raigoza on his "lifestyle," meaning what he does in the privacy of his home, should Ryan and the R's who authored the piece be asked about their sexual habits? No one wants to go there. Senator Ryan could disavow the literature. Will he?


We're hearing rumblings that McCain could make a final NM visit. Nothing firm, but a Monday stopover would not surprise us.


As for those Dems saying the ABQ Journal has been rough on Dem DA Brandenburg because R Lisa Torraco is being supported by ABQ attorney Pat Rogers who has ties to the newspaper, they have some explaining to do. The liberal weekly Alibi has also endorsed Torraco, one of the few R's the paper gave it's nod to. They don't say why.


ABQ Westside City Councilor and likely 2009 mayoral candidate Michael Cadigan was called a "California liberal" on the blog this week and his move to position himself as a fiscal conservative was called into question. He responds:

“California Liberal?” The only time I lived in California was 84 days in Marine Corps boot camp. Also, let’s not forget I voted “no” on a multitude of proposed tax increases, water rate increases, garbage fee increases, golf fee increases, reflecting ponds and developer give-aways, to name just a few."

While Cadigan disavows coming from California, he says that doesn't mean he isn't a fan of the Beach Boys.


One guy who embraces liberal credentials is former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca who differs with a take we had on the ABQ congressional race and his candidate, Dem Martin Heinrich:

Come on Joe. Darren White does an atrocious hit job on Heinrich being a bad guy and then you pronounce he needs to take moderate positions on issues if he is elected. He already is a moderate. Are you saying sponsoring a minimum wage bill makes him not moderate? Protecting New Mexico’s watersheds is not moderate?

Heinrich's instincts have always struck us as the liberal variety. His prominent role in advocating for a an expensive street car and his generally favorable views toward government involvement. He also represented the most liberal area of the city while on the council. But one man's liberal is another man's moderate. The important thing now is how either Heinrich or White will act and vote in Congress. The winner will start with a clean slate.


We joked Thursday that perhaps the vote-rich ABQ NE Heights might thrown on "their cashmere sweaters" and cast more votes than expected for their party. That drew this response from Lisa Abeyta:

"Joe, Love your blog; in fact, I have a link up on my Facebook page. But, seriously, NE Heights people all own cashmere sweaters? Where do I get mine? I shop at Target, buy groceries at Smith's, and we drive paid-for used cars. I tell my kids horrid things like, "We can't afford that." But I did vote early--decked out in my clearance-rack shoes, year-old sweatpants, and a free t-shirt claiming I am a "mama bear" for volunteering at our local high school."

Thanks Lisa. We're down here in the ABQ Valley and will look around for our old moth-ridden cashmere and wear it to the polls in your honor.


It really is the big worry for NM Dems--getting that vote out. Big Bill is on the e-mail circuit with this missive:

Let me be blunt. I'm hearing too many stories of New Mexicans that still aren't planning on voting or they're only voting in the Presidential election. That can't happen. This is an historic opportunity and we all have to do everything we can to make sure that Barack Obama is elected President and he has allies like Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall in Congress to support his efforts...

Hard to believe that Big Bill won't be campaigning for himself again. No one loves the game more and everyone--friend or foe--enjoys watching him play. We thought the Obama campaign might confine the Guv to the West, but he has been campaigning across the nation. He gave a crackling good speech at the Denver Dem convention, and since then it's been full-speed ahead. He's built up a lot of points with the probable next president. Could it really be 28 years since his first run for Congress back in '80? What a run on the trail he had...

The D's will work to rally the ABQ Hispanic vote today as they bring in Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to knock on doors to get out the vote for Obama. The Mayor will be joined by ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich.

Former R Prez candidate Mitt Romney will spend Saturday morning in Farmington at a 9 a.m. rally and then head to ABQ for a noontime event at the Hilton to urge support for McCain and ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Darren White. R Rudy Giuliani will be in Cruces for McCain Saturday at 6 p.m. Gen. Wesley Clark will hold town-hall meetings in Roswell and Las Cruces on Sunday on behalf of Obama.

If you want to get out on the campaign trail this weekend, check out the candidates and the political party Web sites for the latest activities.


We're going to have a fine time Monday at 5 p.m. when we do our traditional Election Eve special at KANW 89.1 FM. I'll be joined by lobbyist Scott Scanland, Democrat John Wertheim, GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga and ABQ Journal Washington correspondent Michael Coleman. We'll cover all the races with the latest news and inside analysis so be sure to stop by. Thanks to Coca-Cola, Bill Campbell Agency-Real Estate and Serrano and Sons Construction for the program support for the pre-game show and for our Election Night coverage on KANW.


Obama or McCain will be politically dead after Tuesday night. Those who on Monday celebrate the Mexican observance--Day of the Dead--seem more than ready.


A couple of blog boo-boos to clear up. Judge Linda Vanzi is filling a seat on the Court of Appeals left vacant by Lynn Pickard, not Ira Robinson as we initially blogged. Judge Robles of Las Cruces was named to fill the Robinson vacancy....Thanks to Judge Joe Alarid, among others, for pointing that one out...ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez is serving his second term in a row, not his third, as we said earlier this week. Marty's first term as mayor was from '93 to '97..

We'll stay with you through the weekend. The ABQ Journal poll will be out Sunday and we'll post an update for you and bring you any other late breaking news on this final weekend of Campaign '08.
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