New Mexico voters tend to trust their own political party the most when it comes to addressing high-profile national issues such as the economy, the debt, energy policy, Medicare and Social Security, a Journal Poll found.
Overall, a slightly larger number of voters said they had more trust in Democrats than Republicans to craft a national energy policy and reform Medicare and Social Security.
Meanwhile, voters expressed slightly more trust in Republicans to improve the nation’s economy and deal with a national debt of nearly $16 trillion, the new Journal Poll found. That’s because more independent voters polled said they trusted the GOP more than Democrats on those two issues.
“We just see that the nation is polarized and divided between the parties,” said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff. “Most Democrats and Republicans think that their own party is the party to fix these issues.”
For example, on the issue of improving the nation’s economy, 72 percent of Democrats polled said they trusted their party to address the issue and 85 percent of Republicans trusted their party.
Independent voters and those affiliated with minor political parties, who combine to make up 20 percent of all registered New Mexico voters, were nearly twice as likely to place their trust in Republicans than Democrats on the issue of the economy.
At the same time, independent voters expressed more trust in Democrats than Republicans to reform Social Security and develop a national energy policy.
On the energy question, 44 percent of the independents said they trusted the Democratic Party compared to 33 percent who said they trusted the Republican Party.
The Journal Poll interviewed 402 likely voters statewide via land lines and cellphones between Sept. 3-6. Results for the entire sample of voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Neither party received more than 44 percent trust on any of the five national policy issues surveyed — improving the economy, dealing with the debt, developing a national energy policy and reforming Medicare and Social Security.
On the question about addressing the national debt, about 8 percent of voters surveyed said they do not trust either party. That was the highest “neither” percentage of any of the policy issues polled.
The poll results indicated New Mexico voters are wary of supporting a political party they are not affiliated with on any major policy issue, Sanderoff said.
“I think 20 years ago we would have seen more discernment and variation on the issues,” he said.
Although the gap has been narrowing, Democrats still outnumber Republicans in New Mexico in voter registration, with Democrats accounting for 48 percent of the 1.2 million voters registered statewide as of Aug. 31 and Republicans making up 32 percent. Voters who decline to state a party affiliation when they sign up — so-called independents — have recently been the fastest growing category and now comprise 17 percent of all registered New Mexico voters. The remaining voters are affiliated with various minor parties.
The largest trust advantage enjoyed by either major political party in the Journal Poll came on the issues of reforming Medicare and Social Security.
On both issues, 44 percent of voters surveyed said they trust the Democratic Party more while 39 percent said they have more trust in the Republican Party.
Those results are not surprising, Sanderoff said.
“Medicare and Social Security have traditionally been Democratic Party strong suits, in terms of areas where voters see Democratic candidates as more likely to protect them,” he said.
On the final policy question, regarding the development of a national energy policy, 44 percent of voters surveyed said they trust the Democratic Party more and 40 percent said they trust the Republican Party more. The remainder of the voters polled said they did not trust either party, trusted both parties the same or were undecided on the issue.
— This article appeared on page A4 of the Albuquerque Journal