Democratic 1st Congressional District candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham has maintained a wide lead over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones as the Nov. 6 election nears, a new Journal Poll found.
Lujan Grisham, a former Bernalillo County commissioner and state Cabinet secretary for health and aging, was favored by 51 percent of likely voters or voters who already have cast an early ballot, according to a Journal Poll taken Oct. 23-25.
Arnold-Jones, a small-business owner and former state representative, was backed by 36 percent of likely voters.
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Thirteen 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, had significant leads over their challengers, the Journal Poll found.
1st Congressional District
Lujan Grisham’s advantage over Arnold-Jones held steady through most of October, a month that included three televised debates between the candidates.
An earlier Journal Poll, taken Oct. 9-11, had similar results, with Lujan Grisham leading 51 percent to 37 percent. That poll found 12 percent of likely voters were undecided at the time.
Contributing to the almost static nature of the District 1 race is the fact that voters are paying less attention to it than they are to the more closely contested race for the U.S. Senate between Rep. Martin Heinrich and former Rep. Heather Wilson, said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff.
“Although it’s true that both of them have been heavier on television (advertising), had some debates, but despite all these things, nothing has changed in the last couple of weeks,” Sanderoff said.
Lujan Grisham held an advantage in part by drawing more Republican voters away from Arnold-Jones – 11 percent – than the 8 percent of Democratic voters Arnold-Jones took from Lujan Grisham. In the 1st Congressional District, where Democrats make up 46 percent of registered voters, losing the party crossover vote means a difficult path to victory for the Republican candidate, Sanderoff said.
Among independent voters, the District 1 race has been closer but still favors the Democrat. Lujan Grisham led among independent voters, 44 percent to 37 percent.
Lujan Grisham staked out a stronger advantage among women voters, with 54 percent saying they prefer the Democratic candidate in a race where women’s health care services, such as access to contraception, have been a focal issue for Lujan Grisham. “It appears to be having an effect,” Sanderoff said.
Thirty-one percent of female voters in the Journal Poll said they back Arnold-Jones.
And Lujan Grisham held a greater than 2-to-1 advantage among voters who described themselves as Hispanic, 61 percent to 26 percent.
The margin of sampling error for results based on the full sample of 401 voters in the 1st Congressional District is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. The margin grows for subsamples.
2nd Congressional District
In southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Pearce had an 18-point lead in the Oct. 23-25 Journal Poll over his Democratic challenger, Evelyn Madrid Erhard.
Madrid Erhard had support from 38 percent of likely voters. That total represented a sizable gain over the 31 percent of voters in the district who backed the Democrat in an earlier Journal Poll taken Oct. 9-11.
However, with only 6 percent of voters undecided in the latest poll, Madrid Erhard would still fall short of Pearce if she were to win all remaining undecided voters in the heavily conservative district, Sanderoff said.
The margin of sampling error for results based on the full sample of 113 voters in the 2nd Congressional District is plus or minus 9.2 percentage points.
3rd Congressional District
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján held on to a strong lead over Republican challenger Jefferson Byrd in northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, the Journal Poll found.
Luján led Byrd 53 percent to 35 percent with 12 percent of voters left undecided.
The new poll suggests Luján has lost a small portion of his advantage over Byrd from the poll taken earlier this month, which found the Democrat leading 58 percent to 34 percent in a district widely considered a Democratic stronghold.
“Unless he (Byrd) has been spending a ton of money, I’d attribute that (gain) to sampling error. You’re still looking at an 18-point lead here,” Sanderoff said.
Through the first half of October, Byrd has spent about $13,000 on the campaign. Luján, meanwhile, spent nearly $85,000 during that period, according to Federal Election Commission data.
The Journal Poll on 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 with likely voters, or voters who had already voted, in each congressional district.
Luján Leads In Race For HouseLujan Grisham, Pearce also top rivals
ELECTION 2012 jOURNAL pOLL
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal