Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Running the Numbers On The ABQ Congress Battle; What Will It Take? Plus Biden To Southern NM And: Blogging With Judy Woodruff 

Amid predictable and frantic October spin on the ABQ congressional race, it's time for a reminder that it is not that complicated. Bernalillo County makes up over 90 percent of the ABQ area congressional district. If Democrat Martin Heinrich carries the county by as little as 51 to 49 percent, he will be positioned to be the next congressman. If he ties or loses the county, he will very likely lose to Republican Darren White.

Registration for the district is about 407,000. Assume 90 percent of the vote comes from big Bernalillo and that 70 percent of registered voters cast ballots. If Heinrich were to get 51% of the projected 256,410 votes in Bernalillo County, he would come in with 130,769 to White's 125,641. That's a win of 5,128 votes. If White scored a big 57% win over Heinrich in the areas outside of ABQ, he would pick up about 3,988 votes, based on 28,5000 votes cast there. That would give Heinrich a districtwide win of about 1,140, and that's with a very narrow Bernalillo County victory.

The problem for the R's is the Bernalillo County strength of Dem Senate nominee Tom Udall and Prez contender Obama. If Udall takes 57 percent in Bernalillo County--a realistic possibility--he could beat Pearce by a stunning 40,000 votes. If Obama wins the county with 54 percent, he would take home a 23,000 vote victory. That leaves Heinrich. Does he lose all those Obama votes and end up tying or losing the county against a non-incumbent like White? These numbers explain why for the first time in the history of an ABQ Journal poll the Democrat is ahead in the 1st CD in late September--43 to 41. Two other independent polls also show the sheriff running behind.

Set aside that cancellation of $500,000 in national Republican TV time for White. Even if he had that money, his task remains formidable in a year when the Rio Grande is running deep blue and Pete Domenici's name is not on the ballot. And that is direct from the no-spin zone.


White is not out of it and has enough money to make his case for now. Some of the national money not materializing is being made up by the state GOP which on Monday came with this ad against Heinrich. How much they are spending on the ad was not released. This spot has more power than the one we showed you Monday in which White goes after former city councilor Heinrich for supporting the extension of a tax to build a street car in his district. Says the new ad:

Martin Heinrich refused to condemn an ad that called our American General (Petreaus) a traitor during a time of war...And Heinrich even promised to block funding for body armor, bullets...for our combat troops unless they're pulled from Iraq..

We'll let the truth squads sort out the veracity of those claims. This latest effort seems aimed at male voters. It might most influence Democratic Hispanic men in ABQ'S South Valley.

While Darren may score with that one, Martin is up with a new and powerful piece (no video yet) that says White is "wrong on Bush" and "wrong for New Mexico." Tying White to Bush has been a winning ticket all year long. Will it stay that way when it counts?


When Joe Biden was nominated as the Dem VP nominee our Alligators (political sources for you new readers) wondered how long it would take before he came to swing state NM. They quickly set the "over-under" at 14 days from the end of the Dem convention. Well, it has taken him over 40 days, but Biden will make it here Friday for a stop in Las Cruces.

Race has not overtly surfaced as an issue in the south, but Dems remain concerned about enthusiasm for an African-American candidate there. Biden could help soothe fence-sitting voters.

Obama's campaign is city centric---ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces are key. Those are the areas he carried heavily in the FeB. Dem Prez caucus. The campaign has field offices throughout rural NM as it works to keep down McCain's totals there. It was a huge rural sweep that propelled Bush to his nearly 6,000 2004 NM win. 

Judy Woodruff
Obama may be ahead here, but fickle New Mexico is still at the top of the watch list for the national media looking for any momentum changes in the final days of Campaign '08. To that end, PBS's flagship broadcast, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," set up shop this week in ABQ to take a look at what makes our state swing.

We sat down Monday with Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent and political editor for the NewsHour, and were beamed into the homes of the estimated 2.7 million viewers of the broadcast. Thankfully, network TV hires make-up consultants, so we don't think we scared anyone during our seven minute stint. The Newshour posted audio of the interview which also features University of New Mexico political science professor Christine Sierra. There was also a strong set-up piece from correspondent Ray Suarez. If you are into New Mexico, you want to hear this. The NewsHour airs weekdays at 5:30 p.m. on KNME-TV. It will feature our state all this week.

Woodruff has been a mainstay on the national political beat since she did a better than 10 year stint for NBC News starting in the 70's. She doesn't sort her papers or look away after she poses her questions; she focuses intently on you and your answer which in turn relaxes and opens up the interviewing subject. Being PBS, these are also questions which make you focus. After decades in the game, Woodruff doesn't seem jaded, either. She had a twinkle in her eye as we unloaded our version of New Mexico esoterica. Now that's a political junkie.


Bringing it back to local TV, we saw Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg's first TV ad on the 10 p.m. news Monday night. She boasts of having a "95 percent felony conviction rate." Her Republican foe, Lisa Torraco, has scored points going after Kari's conviction rate as well as her handling of several high-profile cases. But Torraco recently told supporters her campaign was "broke" and that she needed money for the final days. Torraco is up with radio, but without TV competing with Democrat Kari, this potentially strong Republican candidate will likely come up short.


We now turn toward Northeastern NM and former GOP State Representative Bobbie Mallory. She blogs in with an important correction to our Monday report in which we noted the growing confidence of top state Dems that they can pick up the House seat being vacated by Brian Moore

Joe, Rep. Brian Moore did not take the seat away from the Democrats, a Republican, Bobbie K. Mallory, did. I believe I was the first Republican to hold the seat and I know I was the first woman..I served two terms before retiring...Representative Moore won the next election and has held it ever since. I can't tell you just how much I enjoy reading your blog every morning with my first cup of coffee.

The last Democrat who had that House seat over Clayton and Tucumcari way was Wesley Grau who Mallory beat in 1996 by just 45 votes.

The R's answered the D's contention made here that retired banker Craig Cosner is going to take this one. Said the state GOP: "Dennis Roch has been working extremely hard, has raised a substantial amount of money and we are very confident the seat will stay Republican."

That's the way we like 'em--heated and hotly contested.

Thanks for the blog, Bobbie. When you are down this way the coffee is on us.

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