Biden takes victory in New Mexico in record voter turnout - Albuquerque Journal

Biden takes victory in New Mexico in record voter turnout

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participates during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Candidate Votes

Precincts reported:

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the presidential race in New Mexico as a record number of voters statewide cast their ballots in the contentious general election that pitted Democrat Biden against incumbent President Donald Trump.

By the time the polls closed, voters had their say like never before.

New Mexico blew past its previous high in voter turnout for a presidential election, with 914,663 ballots accounted for by about 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. That compares with the previous record of just over 833,000 votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.

“We just continue to see massive turnout, which is great,” said Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Alex Curtas.

Biden took New Mexico’s five electoral votes, holding a 12-point lead over Trump statewide as of 9:45 p.m., according to unofficial results. Biden had overwhelming support in northern New Mexico Democratic stronghold counties, with Bernalillo County at 63 percent for Biden and 35 percent for Trump.

This was an Election Day like no other in recent times.

With New Mexico in the grips of a record coronavirus surge, more than 324,801 absentee ballots already had been cast by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Another 456,260 people voted in early voting that ended Saturday. And more than 100,000 voters had voted in person Tuesday two hours before the polls closed.

“(COVID-19) didn’t discourage people from coming out on Election Day,” Curtas said. “I think that the people that just had concerns voted absentee or early.”

With few long lines, Curtas said, the in-person voting Tuesday wasn’t “quite as robust as some other years” because so many New Mexicans had already cast their votes by absentee and early voting.

“Voting in person is kind of a civic celebration; that’s why we definitely expected people to show up at the polls,” Curtas said.

Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., said New Mexicans had already become accustomed to early voting before this election season.

“But now we changed the mix, and so many people decided to vote through mail,” Sanderoff said. “We also made it easier to vote through mail – we sent them their absentee ballot applications. And what did we discover? ‘Well, gee, if you make it easier for people to vote, sometimes they take advantage of it.’ ”

Of the state’s more than 1.3 million registered voters, 45.2% are Democrats, with Republicans making up roughly 31.3%, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Democrats have dominated in presidential races in New Mexico in the past two decades, with the exception of 2004, when Republican President George W. Bush beat John Kerry 49.8% to 49.1%.

Sanderoff said the election was more of a referendum on Trump than a contest between the candidates.

“The lines are just drawn so deeply, particularly really on Donald Trump. Many people love him; others do not. They hate him.”

“In 2008, with Obama, there was a sense of excitement among many liberal and moderate Democrats. You don’t see that level of excitement for Biden. A lot of the excitement is generated by whether or not you like Donald Trump,” Sanderoff said.

Curtas said no major voting problems were reported by the time the polls closed, although one polling site in Rio Arriba County had reported 30 people in line. With 10 minutes to spare at the 98th Street Marketplace voting site in Albuquerque, Marissa Paragiso, a 23-year-old college student and single mother, waited in line to vote for the first time.

Paragiso said she regretted not voting earlier, but feared that her ballot wouldn’t be counted if mailed in. She said she took her grandmother’s advice and voted in-person.

“She said, ‘I always went down and voted, and it’s the easiest way to get your point across,’ ” Paragiso said.

Behind her in line was Brooks More, also a first-time voter. More, a 20-year-old working a commercial delivery job, said he wasn’t confident about this election.

“I’m hoping a Republican will come out, but I don’t think this election is going to go well either way,” More said.

Neither presidential candidate campaigned in New Mexico for the general election.

But in September 2019, Trump stopped at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center and vowed to “campaign for every vote” and defy political pundits by adding New Mexico to his “win” column in 2020.

Audilio Marquez, a 37-year old jewelry artist, said he was surprised about his voting experience this year.

“I was expecting huge lines, bitterness and angry people,” he said. “But so far, so good.”

For Marquez, respect and peace are the most important things he wants to see after the election.

“Regardless of who wins, I don’t really care,” Marquez said. “I want them to cooperate and unify.”

Journal staff writer Anthony Jackson contributed to this report.

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