Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – With Election Day less than two months away, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a sizable lead over President Donald Trump among New Mexico voters, according to a Journal Poll.
Fifty-four percent of likely general election voters surveyed recently said they would vote for Biden, while 39% said they would vote for Trump, the Republican incumbent. The remaining voters surveyed were undecided or said they did not plan to vote for either candidate.
Biden’s commanding advantage in the Journal Poll was due largely to strong support among female voters, Hispanics and self-described moderates.
Specifically, 67% of moderates, a category that includes Democrats, Republicans, independents and those affiliated with other political parties, said they would vote for Biden, compared with just 29% who said they would support Trump.
Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said Trump’s law-and-order focus and frequent tweeting appear to be aimed at shoring up support in his GOP base, not winning over moderates.
“I think that’s costing him here in New Mexico, where you have so many voters who describe themselves as middle-of-the-road types,” Sanderoff said.
Of the 1,123 people contacted for this poll question, 39% described themselves as moderate, 36% described themselves as conservative, and 20% described themselves as liberal.
Trump lost New Mexico – and its five electoral votes – to Democrat Hillary Clinton by roughly 8 percentage points in 2016. That race also featured Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, getting about 9.3% of the votes cast statewide.
In the run-up to this year’s general election, campaign aides for Trump have said they see an opportunity in New Mexico, especially among Latino voters.
The president, a businessman and former reality show star, drew a crowd of about 9,000 to a September 2019 campaign rally in Rio Rancho during which he touted the oil drilling boom in southeastern New Mexico.
However, Sanderoff said that widespread Hispanic support for Trump in New Mexico does not appear to be materializing.
In fact, Hispanic voters preferred Biden over Trump by a ratio of more than 2-to-1 in the Journal Poll, with 64% of Hispanic voters saying they would vote for Biden and just 28% for Trump.
“It appears as if Biden is picking up nearly all the Hispanic support that Gary Johnson had in 2016,” Sanderoff said.
While Anglo voters across New Mexico were much more narrowly divided, Biden had a narrow edge over Trump among those voters, too.
Women prefer Biden
As for the state’s gender gap, 59% of female voters surveyed said they would vote for Biden, compared with 37% who indicated they would vote for Trump.
It was a much narrower breakdown among male voters, with 49% supporting Biden and 43% saying they would vote for Trump.
While New Mexico was long regarded as a swing state, a Republican has not won the state’s five electoral votes since George W. Bush did so in 2004.
Democrats have also been successful in other recent statewide elections, sweeping all state offices on the ballot in 2018 and turning New Mexico’s congressional delegation into an all-Democratic one for the first time since 2010.
New Mexico voters are largely divided over their preferred pick in this year’s presidential election depending on where they live, the Journal Poll found.
Likely voters in both northwestern New Mexico and the state’s east side – both traditional Republican strongholds – backed Trump over Biden by significant margins.
However, voters in the Albuquerque area, southwestern New Mexico and the state’s largely Hispanic north-central region overwhelmingly backed Biden, a former vice president and longtime U.S. senator who, at age 78, would be the oldest president at inauguration if he’s elected.
“Trump is ahead in two of the five regions, but those regions are not densely populated enough to offset Biden’s advantage in the other parts of the state,” Sanderoff said.
While likely New Mexico voters of all education levels were more likely to support Biden than Trump, that support was particularly pronounced among voters with graduate degrees. That mirrors a national trend, Sanderoff said.
Election Day is Nov. 3, with absentee voting scheduled to begin Oct. 6 across New Mexico. The first presidential debate is scheduled for Sept. 29 in Cleveland.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 1,123 likely general election voters who also voted in either the 2016 and 2018 general elections – or both.
Respondents were given the choice of Biden or Trump, as well as the option of volunteering support for a different candidate. Fewer than 1% chose “other candidate,” and 2% said they would not vote for either Biden or Trump.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 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.
Both cellphone numbers (73%) and landlines (27%) of likely general election voters were used.