Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Crime remains a major concern for Albuquerque voters, but homelessness has emerged as another significant worry, according to a new Journal Poll.
Two-thirds (66%) of likely city voters surveyed this month said crime is the biggest issue facing Albuquerque residents. In the unaided question, almost a quarter (23%) named homelessness as a top issue.
No other one issue was raised by more than 5% of survey respondents.
While respondents were asked to name the biggest issue, poll takers accepted up to three responses. Dozens of issues were cited, ranging from a need for more police to the cost of housing to health care.
The new poll somewhat resembles voters’ sentiment before the last Albuquerque mayoral election, in 2017, when 69% of voters the Journal polled said the high crime rate was the city’s biggest issue.
But homelessness was not a common answer four years ago, as more voters then identified the economy, education and even Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction as the city’s top problem.
Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff said voters in years past tended to consistently say jobs and the economy were their top concerns, but that has given way to crime. He said that both statistics and politics could be driving that trend. Mayoral challengers Manuel Gonzales and Eddy Aragon each have criticized incumbent Mayor Tim Keller’s record on public safety, arguing they could do better. While overall crime has dropped in the city due to reduced property crime, Albuquerque has in 2021 already broken its annual homicide record, with over two months still to go.
“I think that crime is a focus of the campaign, so it helps bring the issue top of mind to voters, but I think the voters on their own are really concerned about crime,” said Sanderoff, whose Albuquerque-based firm, Research & Polling Inc., conducted the poll.
The percentage that mentioned crime as a main concern differed widely based on candidate preference. Among Keller supporters, 60% listed crime as a main concern, compared to 74% of Aragon supporters and 81% of those planning to vote for Gonzales.
“Is it that Gonzales and Aragon voters are just more likely to be concerned about crime or have they been receptive to (those candidates’) message?” Sanderoff said. “It’s probably both, frankly.”
In the same poll, interviewers also asked respondents to rate their level of concern about Albuquerque’s crime rate, homelessness, the quality of public school education, COVID-19 and climate change on a 1-5 scale, with 5 representing the highest level of concern.
An overwhelming majority — 87% — gave crime a 4 or 5, though even more — 89% — said the same for homelessness.
Older poll participants and Republicans were far more likely to rate crime as a serious concern.
Only 54% of those ages 18 to 34 rated crime a 5, compared with 79% of those 65-plus.
Similarly, 61% of Democrats and 71% of independents gave crime the highest score, compared with 91% of Republicans.
There also were dramatic political disparities on the questions about COVID-19 and climate change.
While 55% of all respondents rated climate change a 4 or 5, it was far higher among Democrats specifically (78%) and considerably lower among Republicans (20%).
On COVID-19, 49% expressed concern overall, but that includes 61% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans.
“This is part of the culture wars,” Sanderoff said of how differently Democrats and Republicans reported their fear about the pandemic and climate change.
Worry about education varied less based on political affiliation, though more Republicans than Democrats described themselves as “very” concerned.
Republicans and Democrats are more aligned when it comes to their concern about homelessness.
However, more women (71%) than men (55%) reported the highest level of concern about homelessness, as did more Hispanic (76%) than Anglo (58%) respondents.
The poll, which took place Oct. 15 through Oct. 21, was based on a scientific, citywide sample of 536 likely regular local election voters. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 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 (82%) and landlines (18%) were used.