Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico voters are more skeptical of Donald Trump’s performance as president than they were of Barack Obama at a similar point in his first term, according to a Journal Poll.
But neither enjoyed strong approval ratings a year and a half into their terms.
Overall, the state’s voters remain deeply polarized over Trump’s presidency, with divisions falling along partisan, geographic and ethnic lines.
Just 38 percent of proven, likely voters in New Mexico approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, the poll said, and 54 percent say they disapprove.
Trump’s approval ratings are similar nationwide, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the Journal Poll.
Obama, a Democrat, had a 45 percent approval rating in 2010 among New Mexico voters. Fifty percent of voters disapproved of his work, according to the Journal Poll that year.
It was a sign of things to come, as Republicans ended up gaining 63 seats in the U.S. House in 2010 and regaining a majority in the chamber.
“We do have a situation where historically the party not in the White House during the midterm election cycle gains politically and electorally,” Sanderoff said in an interview. “That could happen in New Mexico, as well.”
Trump’s approval rating, for example, appears to reflect the political mood of the state. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham had a seven-point lead over Republican Steve Pearce in the Journal Poll, and Democrat Martin Heinrich held a comfortable lead in his race for re-election to the U.S. Senate in a three-person field of candidates.
The Journal Poll shows that Trump remains popular with Republicans and in eastern New Mexico, a conservative stronghold. He has a 77 percent approval rating among Republican voters and 66 percent overall in eastern New Mexico.
Just 8 percent of Democrats, by contrast, approve of his job performance, and his supporters are outnumbered by skeptics in the Albuquerque area, the northwest, north-central, and Las Cruces and southwestern parts of the state.
“Whether it be geography or party affiliation,” Sanderoff said, “we’re seeing great polarization.”
Ideology shows similar divisions. While 77 percent of voters who identify as conservative approve of Trump, just 4 percent of liberals and 22 percent of moderates support his work, according to the Journal Poll.
His approval rating is low among Hispanic and Anglo voters and men and women.
It’s particularly pronounced among Hispanic voters – just 28 percent of whom approve of Trump and 67 percent disapprove. Among Anglos, the rates are 41 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval.
The sample sizes for other racial groups were too small to report their results with accuracy.
In 2016, Trump, a Republican, lost New Mexico to Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won 48 percent of the vote. Trump had 40 percent.
The poll question asked: “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president of the United States?” While 54 percent said they disapproved and 38 percent said they approved, 6 percent said they had mixed feelings and 2 percent didn’t know or wouldn’t say.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific sample of 423 registered voters who cast ballots in the 2014 and 2016 general elections, and said they were very likely to vote in this year’s election.
The poll was conducted Sept. 7-13. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 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. Both cellphone numbers (64 percent) and landlines (36 percent) of proven general election voters were used.