SANTA FE – New Mexico’s face mask mandate doesn’t chafe most voters.
In fact, 78% of likely general election voters surveyed said they support the requirement that face coverings be worn in public settings, while just 17% expressed opposition to the mandate, according to a new Journal Poll.
The backing for the mask requirement cut across party lines, though Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to express support.
“People are still concerned about contracting or transmitting the virus,” said Brian Sanderoff, the president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the statewide poll. “If they didn’t take the virus seriously, they wouldn’t be willing to deal with the hassle of wearing a mask.”
New Mexico was among the first states to require that face coverings be worn in public settings, when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham revised a public health order in mid-May to include a face mask mandate.
Other states have since followed suit, and there are about 34 states – including neighboring Texas and Colorado – with such a requirement in place.
Lujan Grisham initially said she hoped “positive peer pressure” would be used to encourage mask wearing, saying the state did not intend to take a punitive approach to enforcing the mandate.
But she changed course in July – amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases – and ordered the mask requirement be enforced with a $100 fine. Businesses must also require employees and customers to wear masks or face fines.
Statewide, the Journal Poll found voters in all regions of New Mexico were more likely to support than oppose the face covering requirement.
But those surveyed in the state’s most Democratic-leaning areas – including the Albuquerque metro area – expressed stronger support than those in eastern New Mexico and the Four Corners region.
In the Albuquerque metro area, for instance, 86% of those surveyed expressed support for the mask mandate, compared to just 11% who opposed it.
In contrast, 58% of voters surveyed in the state’s eastern region said they supported the face covering requirement, while 38% said they were not in favor.
The Journal Poll found little difference among Anglo and Hispanic voters on the issue. As for gender, female voters were slightly more likely than male voters to express support, but a clear majority of both men and women said they support the mandate.
Trump supporters less enthusiastic
There was also a notable face mask split between supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and supporters of President Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican who is seeking reelection to a second term.
Among New Mexico voters who said they planned to vote for Biden in the Nov. 3 election, 96% said they support the mask-wearing requirement and just 2% expressed opposition to it.
Among voters who said they back Trump, meanwhile, 52% support the mask mandate and 40% oppose it.
While Biden has regularly worn a face covering during campaign events, Trump has at times downplayed the importance of mask wearing and only occasionally has worn one in public.
That stance has apparently rubbed off on some supporters, Sanderoff said, though he said Republicans may also be generally more wary of government mandates.
“We’re seeing a really strong correlation between candidate preference in the presidential race and mandatory mask wearing,” Sanderoff said.
New Mexico’s face covering requirement allows for certain exemptions, including eating and drinking. Exercising had also been an allowable exception, but Lujan Grisham did away with it in July.
The Journal Poll asked voters whether they support or oppose New Mexico’s public health order requiring individuals to wear masks or face coverings in most public places.
The poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 457 likely general election voters who also voted in either the 2016 and 2018 general elections – or both.
It was conducted from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 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 (74%) and landlines (26%) of likely general election voters were used.