Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Democrats hold double-digit leads in the races for attorney general and three other statewide offices as New Mexico enters the final stretch of a turbulent campaign season, according to the latest Journal Poll.
Democrat Raúl Torrez, a district attorney who won his party’s nomination in a tough primary, enjoyed the biggest edge in the survey – a lead of 16 percentage points over Republican Jeremy Gay for attorney general.
Democratic candidates also led by 11 to 12 points in the campaigns for secretary of state, treasurer and land commissioner, according to the telephone survey of likely voters by Research & Polling Inc.
Brian Sanderoff, president of the polling firm, said it’s typical for Democrats to have a lead in lower-profile statewide races because they make up a larger share of the voter rolls than Republicans in New Mexico.
“The Democrats are in good position in all these races, as they were four years ago,” he said.
Democrats swept every statewide race in 2018.
Torrez – who defeated a statewide officeholder, Auditor Brian Colón, in the Democratic primary – had support from 49% of likely voters in the poll, perhaps buoyed by his strong name recognition in the Albuquerque area, where he serves as the top prosecutor.
He even showed some strength among Republicans, picking up support from 14% of the GOP respondents while Gay, by contrast, had support from just 6% of Democrats.
Torrez also did especially well among Hispanic voters.
Sanderoff said Torrez may also have an advantage from having run a statewide primary campaign where he positioned himself as the candidate tougher on crime.
“Raúl Torrez is not only the Bernalillo County district attorney where he gets a lot of publicity in Albuquerque,” Sanderoff said, “but he’s also gained a lot of statewide recognition as a result of his hard-fought primary in a statewide race.”
Torrez and Gay are competing to succeed Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat who cannot seek reelection because of term limits.
Gay, a Gallup lawyer and former judge advocate in the Marine Corps, had support from 33% in the poll.
The remaining likely voters surveyed were undecided or otherwise unwilling to say who they’d vote for.
Secretary of state
Democratic incumbent Maggie Toulouse Oliver had a comfortable lead in the Journal Poll over her Republican and Libertarian rivals for secretary of state.
She is known throughout the state, Sanderoff said, because she has served almost six years as secretary of state already, on top of her earlier tenure as Bernalillo County clerk.
In the survey, Toulouse Oliver was favored by 45% of likely voters, giving her a 12-point edge over her closest competitor.
She demonstrated particular strength among women and in the Albuquerque area, where she served as county clerk.
The race comes as election officials throughout the country face increased scrutiny following ex-President Donald Trump’s false claims of a rigged election in 2020.
The Republican secretary of state candidate, Audrey Trujillo, has questioned the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory in New Mexico. Biden won the state by about 99,720 votes, or roughly 11 percentage points.
Trujillo had 33% of the vote in the Journal Poll. Libertarian Mayna Erika Myers had support from 4% of likely voters.
Democrat Laura Montoya had an 11 percentage point lead over Republican Harry Montoya in the race for state treasurer.
Laura Montoya, a former Sandoval County treasurer, won the Democratic nomination after withstanding a barrage of negative ads earlier this year.
According to the Journal Poll, 44% of those surveyed said they supported her, while Harry Montoya had support from 33%.
Neither candidate is a “household name,” Sanderoff said, and voters are likely in lower-profile races to stick with their own party.
State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, a Democrat campaigning for a second term, picked up support from 46% of those polled, an 11-point lead over Republican Jefferson Byrd, a member of the Public Regulation Commission.
Republicans have sometimes won races for land commissioner, Sanderoff said, and Byrd may enjoy some name recognition as a member of the PRC and past candidate for office.
Still, Garcia Richard is out to a comfortable lead, Sanderoff said.
The race isn’t likely to tighten much, he said, unless the oil and gas industry – or some other outside constituency – spends heavily to get involved.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 518 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election.
The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 through Aug. 25. 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 (79%) and landlines (21%) of proven general election voters were used.