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Obama Builds N.M. Lead Over Romney

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President Barack Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 10 points in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral votes, with about three weeks remaining before Election Day, the Journal Poll found.

The Democratic president had 49 percent support in the statewide survey of likely voters, and some who had already voted, compared with 39 percent of voters who said they preferred Romney.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, had 6 percent support in the survey. Five percent of New Mexico voters were undecided.

The Journal Poll was conducted Oct. 9-11. The margin of sampling error for the statewide sample of voters is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election started Oct. 9.

Barack Obama has solidified his lead in New Mexico,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll. “He’s broadened his lead in the Albuquerque metro area and among independents, and that has led to an increased lead statewide.”

An earlier Journal Poll, conducted Sept. 3-6, found Obama with a 5-point lead over Romney. That survey was conducted after the Republican National Convention and before the Democratic National Convention had concluded.

“A poll is a snapshot in time,” Sanderoff said. “The timing of the last (Journal) poll may have been more beneficial to Mitt Romney.”

The latest Journal Poll was conducted after a video surfaced in which Romney told supporters at a Florida fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans rely on government support, view themselves as “victims” and will support Obama in the election “no matter what.” Romney has since said his remarks were “completely wrong” and he aims to represent 100 percent of Americans.

The Journal Poll also followed what was widely seen as a solid Romney win in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, spurring a Romney surge in national polls. That trend, however, was not reflected in the just-completed Journal Poll in New Mexico.

Albuquerque key

Obama’s strong showing in the Albuquerque area, where about 45 percent of New Mexico voters live, was a key factor in Obama’s overall lead in the latest Journal Poll, Sanderoff said.

Fifty-three percent of Albuquerque-area voters said they would vote for Obama, and 34 percent supported Romney.

“Obama’s breaking out in the big city of Albuquerque, the largest urban area of the state,” Sanderoff said.

Over time, as Albuquerque becomes more urban, it’s leaning more Democratic,” Sanderoff said.

The Journal Poll also found that independent voters were more likely to support Obama than Romney.

Forty-six percent of poll respondents who identified themselves as independent – actually those who “decline to state” a party affiliation when they register to vote – said they preferred Obama, while 30 percent said they favored Romney.

Fourteen percent of the independents said they supported Johnson, and 9 percent were undecided.

Seventy-nine percent of Democrats surveyed said they would vote for Obama, and 11 percent said they would, or already had, cast their ballots for Romney. Romney needs stronger support among independents and Democrats to beat Obama on Election Day, Sanderoff said.

“For Republicans to win in New Mexico, they need to pick up a significant amount of crossover Democratic voters and at least half of the independents,” Sanderoff said.

Romney did have solid support from Republican voters in the Journal Poll, with 86 percent saying they supported him, compared with just 7 percent of Democrats.

“Romney has Republicans locked,” Sanderoff said.

Hispanic voters

Obama had strong support among Hispanics. Sixty-five percent of voters identifying themselves as Hispanics in the Journal Poll said they would vote for the president, compared with 24 percent who would vote for Romney.

Sanderoff said Romney must boost his support among Hispanics to win the election in New Mexico. New Mexico’s adult population is about 45 percent Hispanic, and one-third of its likely voters are Hispanic.

“Former President George W. Bush got nearly 40 percent among New Mexico Hispanics, and that’s why he could win,” Sanderoff said. “Romney is behind because he’s not picking up a sufficient number of Democrats, independents and Hispanics.”

Obama led Romney among both male and female voters, but each candidate had about equal support from each gender.

Romney led Obama on the conservative east side of New Mexico, where 64 percent of voters polled preferred him to just 25 percent who favored Obama. But in Democratic-heavy north-central New Mexico, Obama had a commanding lead. Two-thirds of the poll respondents from north-central New Mexico, which includes Santa Fe and EspaƱola, said they preferred Obama. Twenty-one percent said they would cast their ballots for Romney. Undecided voters represented 7 percent or less in each region.

Johnson’s greatest support came from independents, men and younger voters. The former New Mexico governor, who served from 1995 until 2003, had 14 percent support among independent voters, 9 percent support among men and 7 percent support among poll respondents who were 18 to 34 years old. Just 4 percent of female voters preferred Johnson, according the Journal Poll.

Obama trend

Obama carried New Mexico with 57 percent of the vote over Republican John McCain in 2008.

With the state never considered a battleground in 2012, presidential campaign advertising has been largely absent in New Mexico.

Obama and Romney each have visited the state once since the start of the year.

The Journal Poll was conducted by Research and Polling Inc. of Albuquerque and is based on cellphone and land-line telephone interviews of 658 likely voters statewide from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11. The margin of error for the full, statewide sample in the Journal Poll is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples. Sums may not equal 100 percent because of rounding error.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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