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Poll: Martinez approval 55%; Legislature 30%

Fifty-five percent of registered New Mexico voters approved of Gov. Susana Martinez’s job performance, according to a recent poll commissioned by Common Cause New Mexico.

The telephone survey, conducted by Research and Polling Inc. between Dec. 20 and Jan. 2, found 29 percent of voters disapproved of the governor’s performance and 15 percent had either mixed feelings or didn’t know. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Common Cause describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to honest, open and accountable government and to encouraging citizen participation in democracy.

Among those who approved of the Republican governor’s job performance just over three years into her first term were 80 percent of the Republicans surveyed, 40 percent of the Democrats and 53 percent of independent voters.

A Journal Poll taken in September 2012, surveying likely voters rather than just registered voters, found that 69 percent approved of Martinez’s performance at the time. Seventeen percent of voters disapproved and 14 percent were undecided. That poll also was conducted by Research and Polling Inc.

Research and Polling President Brian Sanderoff said the two polls are not comparable because the Common Cause survey was presented differently and because it measured registered voters, a sample that leans more Democratic than the Journal Poll’s sample of registered voters who also said they planned to vote in the 2012 general election.

While he said the polls are not comparable, Sanderoff said, “Because she started out so high (in 2012), people will perceive it as a slippage. When you’re up to a 69 (percent) approval rating, you have nowhere to go but down. ”

Martinez re-election campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said the Common Cause survey is evidence of the first-term Republican governor’s broad support in New Mexico.

“New Mexicans strongly support Gov. Martinez and her efforts to move New Mexico forward through reforming education and diversifying the economy to create more jobs and this is simply another poll that reflects that,” Diaz said in an emailed statement.

LAWMAKERS LAG: The Common Cause polling found registered voters had lower regard for the Democratic-controlled state Legislature.

About 30 percent of registered New Mexico voters said they approved of the Legislature’s job performance. Forty-three percent of voters disapproved of the Legislature’s work and 27 percent said they had mixed feelings or didn’t know, according to the poll data.

The Legislature had approval from 33 percent of Democrats, 25 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of independent voters.

The Legislature starts its regular 2014 session next week.

Sanderoff said broad voter disapproval of Congress has rubbed off on New Mexico voters’ opinions of the state legislative body, potentially driving the approval rating downward.

“I think when there’s lot of infighting, people get frustrated and tend to blame everybody,” Sanderoff said.

A Journal Poll asking voters about opinions on the state Legislature was last conducted in 2006. That poll found 44 percent of voters approved of the state Legislature’s job performance; 25 percent disapproved.

James Monteleone can be reached at