Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our Exclusive Poll: Susana At 59% Approval Statewide, But She Has Post-Election Pain In Northeast; We Explain, Plus: Her Popularity In State's Big Counties 

It's days of wine and roses for Susana when it comes to her overall popularity--she scores a 59% voter approval rating--but peering deep into the numbers of our new exclusive poll we find that there is some post-election pain for the state's chief executive.

That nasty and divisive GOP June Senate primary on the state's eastside in which Martinez played a major role has caused her popularity to take a hit there. But get this. She wasn't hurt in her own party--despite endorsing losing candidate Angie Spears over winner Pat Woods--it was her approval among Democrats that plummeted.

Rancher Woods won that race by citing the outside interference from Martinez and her chief political adviser--Jay McCleskey. He argued the race needed to be decided locally--not out of ABQ or Santa Fe. His campaign even cut a TV ad and produced a mailer that blasted McCleskey and the "ABQ political machine." It worked, but according to our poll it was the Democrats who are making the Guv's popularity pay. Republicans there still highly approve of her.

And that raises a question. Can Democratic legislative candidates who get attacked by Susana PAC and McCleskey in the November election use it to rally Dem voters? Did Republican Woods discover a formula for not just defeating his Republican rival, but also give the Dems the game plan for legislative success against the Governor's well-financed and aggressive political operation?

Now let's get into the specifics of our poll that was conducted by Manzano Strategies on behalf of New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan on July 17. We surveyed 1,505 likely voters by automatic phone calls. The margin of error statewide is 2.5%


Veteran Republican consultant and pollster Bruce Donisthorpe supervised our survey, as he has done for many in the past four years--all of which proved highly accurate and predictive. Of the 1,505 voters we polled, 64 were from northeast New Mexico. The margin of error for those surveys will naturally be much higher--about 12%--but the poll demonstrates a clear trend of northeast Dems moving away from the Gov. Here's Donisthorpe with the analysis:

Gov. Martinez’s approval was at 58% statewide when we last surveyed her popularity in October, 2011. She currently stands at 59% in our latest survey. Martinez’s approval appears to have taken a hit in the northeastern counties which comprise State Senate District 7. That's where she played a major role in the recent Republican primary, endorsing Angie Spears who lost to rancher Pat Woods.

Her approval rating in Curry County (home to Clovis) has dropped from 71% in October, 2011 to  51%. In sparsely populated Harding County the Governor's popularity went from 72% in October, to today's 49%. In Quay County, Martinez’s approval rating dropped from 60% to 51%. In Roosevelt County she stayed pretty constant, scoring a 57% approval rating last October, and receiving a 53% approval rating in our latest survey. In Union County, the Governor’s approval rating has slipped to 51%, down from last October’s approval rate of 55%. (78% of District 7 is in Curry County where the media wars were concentrated but reverberated in the adjacent counties)

The Governor’s numbers have dropped most significantly among likely Democratic voters in the northest. Martinez has held her ground among Republican and Independent voters in Northeast New Mexico.

Comparing Last October’s ratings to this July among Democratic voters:

Her Curry approval rating among Democrats dropped from 72% to 15%. Her Quay County Democratic approval rating dropped from 50% to 33%. Her Union County Democratic approval rating dropped from 50% to 40%. Her Roosevelt Democratic approval rating dropped from 67% to 50%.

It seems clear that Democratic voters paid attention to the hotly-contested GOP primary in State Senate 7 and that the publicity seemed to have an adverse affect on the Governor’s popularity among local Democratic voters. Attacks on the Governor’s campaign advisor (Jay McCleskey) probably also did not help bolster the Governor’s approval ratings among Democratic voters.

We also asked Donisthorpe to report to us the Guv's approval rating in some of the state's most populated counties. Again, the margin of error is going to be higher in the county by county results than the statewide totals.

In Bernalillo County, Martinez’s approval rating rose from 56% to 59%. In Dona Ana County, the Governor’s approval rating rose from 51% to 54%. In San Juan County, her approval rating rose from 70% to 91%. In Santa Fe County, Martinez’s approval rating rose from 26% to 39%. The Governor’s 52% approval rating among Hispanic voters is the key factor in her overall high approval rating.

Martinez has every reason to celebrate another solid performance in a statewide scientific public opinion survey, but the fly in the ointment is Curry County and environs. She may want to reassess how she deploys her firepower this fall. In trying to expand her power in that Clovis contest, she appears to have unwittingly given the Dems vital information--that dragging Susana and Jay into a dogfight in a legislative contest isn't necessarily to be feared--it might be a good thing.

Donisthorpe's polling memo and analysis is posted here.


Secretary of State Dianna Duran needs to get on the stick or charges of voter suppression are going to start to fly. The news:

...It started out as a good idea: The state would save taxpayers' money by printing its own voter registration forms instead of hiring a private contractor. Trouble is they haven't been able to keep up with demand. New Mexico Vote Matters and other nonprofit get-out-the-vote groups are just flat out of voter registration cards in English. That's because the Bernalillo County Clerk hasn't had any for most of the month. It's the same issue for clerks in Otero, McKinley, Eddy, Lea and Socorro Counties.
"Some of our voter registration agents have actually lost New Mexicans that have been wanting to register and get on the voting rolls," Oriana Sandoval of Vote Matters said. 

The SOS said August should see more registration forms become available.


On our Wednesday blog and the attempt of former GOP State Senator Joe Carraro to beat Republican Senator John Ryan by running as an independent for the ABQ west side and Rio Rancho area district, a reader writes:

Carraro sure comes off cocky as ever, but I think he’s right. He has a shot (especially if, as you say, he can inject a little cash into the mix). I’d imagine that after all those years in public office, a restaurant / bar in his name plus his well-known “colorful personality,” his name recognition could carry him a long way. With no love for the kind of GOP lockstep Gov. Martinez expects from her rank and file, Carraro could be a double-edged, early Christmas present for Senate Dems--who should seriously consider lending their old friend and nemesis a hand in this race...


On our oft-repeated economic development proposals for New Mexico, reader Keith Miller writes:

Sometimes, once that tune stays in our heads for a while we find ourselves humming it for no particular reason. Which is good…we no longer have to ponder what the song says…we just need to sing it! Keep doing it and now let’s find people that want to do these tasks, especially the bi-partisan ones!

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