Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham has widened her lead over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the 1st Congressional District race, a Journal Poll has found.
Lujan Grisham, a former Bernalillo county commissioner and former state Cabinet secretary for health and aging, had support from 51 percent of likely voters, according to the Journal Poll taken Oct. 9 to 11.
Arnold-Jones, a small-business owner and former state representative, trailed in the race with 37 percent of the likely vote. Twelve percent of voters were undecided.
In New Mexico’s two other U.S. House districts, incumbents Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat, and Steve Pearce, a Republican, maintained significant leads over their challengers.
1st Congressional District
Lujan Grisham’s improved polling numbers suggested many undecided voters were moving toward her, Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff said.
A Journal Poll in early September found Lujan Grisham led the race 46 percent to 34 percent, with 20 percent of voters undecided.
“It’s good news for Lujan Grisham that as the undecideds go down, her margin grows a little,” Sanderoff said.
With Lujan Grisham taking more than 50 percent voter support in a poll, Arnold-Jones would need to win all remaining undecided voters and pull support away from the Democrat to have a chance of winning on Nov. 6.
Lujan Grisham “has gone over the magic 50 percent number, so that even if all the undecideds went to Janice Arnold-Jones, Janice Arnold-Jones would lose unless she’s able to actually pull some support from Lujan Grisham,” Sanderoff said. “When you crack 50 percent in the poll, then all you need to do is hold onto your existing support and not take any political risks.”
Lujan Grisham and Arnold-Jones are scheduled to appear in two more televised debates before Election Day.
Lujan Grisham’s strongest base of support was among voters who identified themselves as Hispanic, the poll found.
Hispanic voters favored Lujan Grisham over Arnold-Jones 65 percent to 25 percent. That lead among Hispanic voters, who previously were highly undecided, includes an 11 percentage point gain for Lujan Grisham since the Journal Poll in September. In September, 19 percent of Hispanics were undecided. The number was down to 10 percent in the latest poll.
The candidates are running to replace Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., who is leaving the House to run for Senate.
The margin of error for results based on the full sample of 1st Congressional District voters is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
2nd Congressional District
In southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, 55 percent of likely voters said they would vote to re-elect Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., the Journal Poll found.
Pearce’s Democratic challenger, Evelyn Madrid Erhard, drew 31 percent of the vote. Fifteen percent of voters were undecided.
“The southern congressional district is a conservative stronghold where it would be difficult for a Democrat to win,” Sanderoff said.
Adding to Madrid Erhard’s challenge, Sanderoff said, is that she is not well-known throughout the district and she has trailed in fundraising.
The margin of error for the sample of 2nd Congressional District voters is plus or minus 9.1 percentage points.
3rd Congressional District
In northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Ben Ray Luján had a 24 percentage point lead over Republican challenger Jefferson Byrd, the Journal Poll found.
Fifty-eight percent of likely voters in the district said they preferred Luján, who is running for his third term in the U.S. House.
Thirty-four percent said they would vote for Byrd, a rancher and first-time candidate from the Tucumcari area. Eight percent of voters were undecided.
“It’s not unusual for the less-known candidate to pick up the lion’s share of the undecideds,” Sanderoff said. “But Ben Ray Luján just has such a tremendous lead, a 10-to-1 margin among Democrats, that it’s just overpowering Jefferson Byrd.”
The margin of error for results of the 3rd Congressional District voter sample is plus or minus 8.3 percent.
The Journal Poll of the U.S. House district races was conducted by Research & Polling Inc. of Albuquerque. The findings are based on cellphone and land-line telephone interviews of 402 likely voters in the 1st Congressional District (margin of error 4.9 percentage points), 116 likely voters in the 2nd Congressional District (margin of error 9.1 percentage points) and 140 likely voters in the 3rd Congressional District (8.3 percentage points). Interviews were conducted Oct. 9-11.