Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
It’s a neck-and-neck race to represent southern New Mexico and parts of Albuquerque as Election Day approaches.
A Journal poll found that Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez has a slight edge over Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., as the race enters the home stretch. Polling shows 47% of likely voters support Vasquez while 45% favor Herrell. About 8% of voters are undecided, according to recent polling data.
New Mexico’s three congressional districts changed earlier this year as part of redistricting. Herrell’s district – rooted in southern New Mexico – now includes parts of Albuquerque’s West Side and South Valley, which are traditionally more liberal areas. That race is proving to be the most competitive of the three House races.
Polling shows that Vasquez has opened up a large lead among Hispanics in the district. He has the support of 61% of that demographic and 29% of Hispanics in the district say they will vote for Herrell. She does have the support of 60% of Anglos in the district, according to Journal polling.
The district has the most expensive of the three House races in New Mexico. Herrell has raised over $4 million and Vasquez over $3.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. Both campaigns are airing television ads attacking the other in the final days of the race.
“This is not a district where you win by touting yourself as being a liberal and progressive Democrat,” said Brian Sanderoff, the president of Research and Polling Inc., which conducted the poll. “We see that the opponents to Vasquez are trying to paint him as a liberal, progressive, extreme Democrat. And he’s trying to position himself as a moderate Democrat.”
The other two House districts now stretch farther into southeast New Mexico, which is traditionally a more conservative part of the state. But the Democratic incumbents are still leading their respective challengers, according to Journal polling.
Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M., is enjoying a 48% to 42% lead over Republican candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes. The 6% gap between Stansbury and Garcia Holmes is much narrower than the most recent elections. Garcia Holmes lost the 2020 race to former Rep. Deb Haaland by 16 percentage points.
Stansbury’s strongest support comes from Hispanics, who favor her 56% to 37%. She also has a wide lead among voters with a graduate degree – 61% of those voters support her, according to Journal polling.
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M., has a 53% to 35% advantage over GOP candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson, according to Journal polling.
Leger Fernández has shored up support from women, 61%, and Hispanics, 68%, according to Journal polling.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Congressional District is getting national attention because it could affect the balance of power in Congress.
“This seat has national implications, and lots of people watching,” Sanderoff said. “Control of the U.S. House will be determined by a handful of seats around the nation.”
The seat has flipped back and forth between the parties in recent elections. Prior to Herrell, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small held the seat and before her was Republican Steve Pearce.
Sanderoff said that although Vasquez is polling in the lead, Herrell has traditionally outperformed polling data and has traditionally favored well with independent voters.
“I have no problem in saying that Yvette Herrell has tended to over-perform in both local and national polls,” he said.
The Journal poll was conducted from Oct. 20 through Oct. 27. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
The margin of error grows for subsamples.
All the interviews were done by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to those who did not initially answer the phone.
Both cellphone numbers (83%) and landlines (17%) of proven general election voters were used.