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Obama Keeps N.M. Lead Over Romney

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President Barack Obama has held on to his lead over Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential contest in New Mexico, running 9 points ahead of the former Massachusetts governor in a Journal Poll concluded 12 days before the Nov. 6 election.

The Democratic president had 50 percent support in the statewide survey of likely voters and those who had already voted, compared with 41 percent backing Romney.

Obama picked up 1 percentage point and Romney gained 2 points in the Oct. 23-25 Journal Poll, compared with the Journal Poll conducted Oct. 9-11.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson had support of 5 percent of likely New Mexico voters in the latest Journal Poll, compared with 6 percent in the previous survey.

Five percent of poll respondents said they were undecided in the Oct. 23-25 survey on presidential race.

“We really didn’t experience significant change in the two-week period between polls,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the Journal Poll.

Meanwhile, “Obama has now reached the 50 percent mark,” Sanderoff said. “The reason Mitt Romney is behind in New Mexico is because he is not picking up enough Hispanics and crossover Democrats.”

Sanderoff said the minimal poll movement in the presidential race in New Mexico, where five electoral votes are at stake, is bad news for Romney heading toward Election Day.

Key factors

Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Mexico, meaning that Republicans must win support of Democrats to win statewide elections. Romney had the support of just 10 percent of Democrats in the latest Journal Poll, compared with 82 percent who supported the president.

“For a Republican to win New Mexico, they need considerably more crossover Democrats than Romney has at this time,” Sanderoff said.

Meanwhile, Obama had support of 7 percent of Republican voters, compared with 85 percent of Republicans who supported Romney.

Hispanic support was another critical factor in Obama’s lead in New Mexico, and that bloc is breaking big for Obama, Sanderoff said. Sixty-eight percent of New Mexico voters who identified themselves as Hispanic preferred Obama, compared with 20 percent who supported Romney.

“Romney only has the support of 20 percent of Hispanics in New Mexico,” Sanderoff said. “President George W. Bush came close to 40 percent support among New Mexico Hispanics in 2004 when he defeated (Democratic nominee) John Kerry.”

New Mexico’s adult population is about 45 percent Hispanic, and one-third of its likely voters are Hispanic.

Johnson factor

Johnson, who was a Republican during his two terms as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, took slightly more support from Republicans – 5 percent of whom said they would vote for him – than from Democrats, 2 percent of whom expressed support for him in the Journal Poll.

A previous Journal Poll conducted Oct. 9-11 found Johnson with 6 percent voter support in New Mexico.

“Johnson is less of a factor now in the sense that he’s only at 5 percent and drawing from both self-identified liberals and conservatives,” Sanderoff said.

Independents, others

Romney appeared to have a slight edge over Obama among voters who described themselves as independent or declined to state a party affiliation when registering to vote. Forty-two percent of these voters said they preferred Romney, compared with 39 percent who favored Obama, although the margin of sampling error grows for such subsamples.

Independent voters were Johnson’s largest bloc of support, with 12 percent of these voters saying they preferred him over Romney or Obama.

Obama had the edge among women in New Mexico. Fifty-four percent of women in the Journal Poll said they would vote for Obama, compared with 39 percent who supported Romney.

Obama and Romney were running nearly even among male voters. Forty-five percent of men polled said they supported Obama, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

Political landscape

New Mexico is the only Rocky Mountain state in which Barack Obama has a comfortable lead,” Sanderoff said, referring to the head-to-head overall.

Other polls show Colorado and Nevada as toss-up states, while voters in Utah, Wyoming and Montana favor Romney by comfortable margins.

Obama carried New Mexico with 57 percent of the vote over Republican John McCain in 2008. New Mexico never gained presidential battleground status in the 2012 election. As a result, presidential campaign advertising has been almost nonexistent here. Obama and Romney each have visited the state once since the start of the year.

The Journal Poll on the presidential contest in New Mexico was conducted by Oct. 23-25 by Research & Polling Inc. of Albuquerque. It is based on cellphone and land-line telephone interviews statewide of 662 likely voters in the Nov. 6 general election, or voters who said they had already voted. The margin of error for the statewide sample in the Journal Poll is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples, such as ethnicity, gender and region. Sums may not equal 100 percent because of rounding error.

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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