Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez held a razor-thin lead in a six-way primary race for the Democratic nomination in the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District, but Debra Haaland and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez were within striking distance.
And nearly a third of likely Democratic voters were still undecided.
A new Journal Poll showed that 29 percent of 1st District Democrats remained undecided about the high-profile congressional contest with less than two weeks until the June 5 primary election.
“Three candidates have emerged at the front of the pack in this race,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the survey. “However, given the large percentage of undecided voters, this race is still too close to call.”
Martinez had the support of 22 percent of likely Democratic voters in the poll, conducted May 20-24. Haaland, a former state Democratic Party chairwoman who would be the first Native American woman elected to the U.S. House, garnered 19 percent support. Sedillo Lopez, a former UNM law professor and civil rights activist, had 17 percent of Democratic support in the poll.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Rounding out the poll’s bottom three spots were Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who had the support of 5 percent of respondents, immigration lawyer Damian Lara, with 4 percent support, and Los Lunas businessman Paul Moya, who polled at 3 percent in the Journal survey.
“Deb Haaland and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez got an early start in this race and developed a considerable base of support, but in the last few weeks I get the sense that Damon Martinez has been gaining momentum and the other three candidates – Davis, Moya and Lara – are lagging behind,” Sanderoff said.
The pollster also noted that the candidates finishing in the top three in the Journal Poll are also winning the crucial money race. Martinez, Sedillo Lopez and Haaland have each raised more than $700,000 in the campaign.
“The candidates who have raised and spent the most money are leading the race,” Sanderoff said. “It doesn’t seem like you can turn on the TV without seeing one of these three candidates’ campaign ads.”
Martinez, who has touted his experience as a former congressional staffer and federal prosecutor, polled strongest among male respondents, with 24 percent saying they support his candidacy. Haaland and Sedillo Lopez each had the support of 16 percent of the male respondents.
Martinez and Haaland were favored by 21 percent of female poll respondents, while Sedillo Lopez garnered 18 percent support among women polled.
Martinez was the clear favorite among Democratic Hispanics polled in the 1st District, with 25 percent of those respondents vowing to support him at the ballot box. Sedillo Lopez polled at 19 percent among Hispanic respondents in the 1st District, while Haaland had just 9 percent support among the ethnic group.
But Haaland garnered strong support among Anglos, with 27 percent, followed by Martinez at 20 percent.
Although Native Americans, African Americans and other races have been included in the survey, their individual sample sizes are too small to report the results in a segmented manner.
Haaland polled best among the most educated likely Democratic voters, with 25 percent of those with graduate degrees saying they support her. Martinez had the support of 20 percent of Democratic voters with graduate degrees, and Sedillo Lopez had 19 percent support among those voters.
Among voters with a high school diploma or less education, Martinez had 22 percent support, Sedillo Lopez garnered 13 percent and Haaland had 9 percent support.
The youngest voters polled – those ages 18 to 34 – were the most likely to still be undecided about the congressional contest, with 40 percent of those poll respondents saying they had not made up their minds. Meanwhile, the oldest voter group – seniors 65 and older – was least likely to be undecided, but 22 percent of voters in that age group said they had not decided which candidate to support.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific sample of 395 registered Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional District who cast ballots in the 2014 and/or 2016 Democratic primary elections and said they were very likely to vote once again in this year’s June 5 primary election. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples. All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
The poll surveyed only Democrats because candidate Janice Arnold-Jones is unopposed on the Republican side and Lloyd Princeton is unopposed as a Libertarian.
Both cellphone numbers (54 percent) and landlines (46 percent) of proven Democratic primary election voters were used.
CORRECTION: The subhead and excerpt for this story have been corrected to show that almost one-third — 29% — of voters are undecided.
Coming Sunday: The Journal Poll results for the Democratic primary in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, auditor and land commissioner.