Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
As Manuel Gonzales campaigns to become Albuquerque’s mayor, more voters say they disapprove than approve of the way he is doing his current job as the Bernalillo County sheriff.
Now in his second term as the county’s top law enforcement official, Gonzales has a job approval rating of 34% and a disapproval rating of 43%, a new Journal Poll shows. Another 15% of voters have mixed feelings.
Gonzales first won the sheriff’s job in 2014 and then scored a 10-point win in his 2018 reelection bid.
How voters view the sheriff’s current job performance is heavily linked to their political party.
Although Gonzales was elected as a Democrat and remains registered with the party, he has little support within it.
Only 19% of Democrats approve of how he’s handled his job, compared with 59% who disapprove.
He rates better with independents – 44% approve, compared with 28% who disapprove – but ranks the best with Republicans. Fifty-four percent approve, and 23% disapprove.
Research and Polling Inc. President Brian Sanderoff said the numbers are not surprising, given Gonzales’ policies and stated philosophies.
“I’m sure there are lots of Republicans who don’t know he’s a Democrat, and they may not care,” said Sanderoff, whose Albuquerque-based firm conducted the Journal Poll. “He does present himself from a more moderate to conservative perspective.”
Sanderoff said he thinks many liberals are still rankled by Gonzales’ high-profile 2020 trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with then-President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr. The visit – tied to a federal crime-fighting operation that targeted certain cities, including Albuquerque – drew a harsh rebuke from some Democrats.
“That’s the kind of thing that might be bothering liberals, but applauded by conservatives,” Sanderoff said.
People from his own party also may view Gonzales unfavorably because he did not outfit his deputies with body cameras until state law required it, Sanderoff said.
“He has handled the Sheriff’s Office in a particular way that I think conservatives are perhaps more supportive of and liberals are more critical of,” Sanderoff said.
Approval also broke on other lines, including gender. Forty percent of men rate his performance positively but only 29% of women do the same.
Meanwhile, older voters are particularly unhappy with the sheriff, with 51% of those ages 65-plus expressing disapproval – considerably higher than any other age group.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, citywide sample of 536 likely regular local election voters, including those who voted in the 2017 and/or 2019 local elections and a small sample of newly registered voters likely to vote in 2021.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 15 through Oct. 21. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The margin of error grows for sub samples.
All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
Both cellphone numbers (82%) and landlines (18%) were used.