Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has maintained a significant lead over Democratic challenger Gary King with just over a week to go before Election Day, a new Journal Poll found.
Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they would vote, or already had voted, for Martinez, who is seeking a second term. Thirty-eight percent said they would back the two-term attorney general in the New Mexico race for governor. Nine percent of voters were undecided. Absentee voting for the Nov. 4 election began Oct. 7.
Martinez’s 15 percentage point advantage in the final Journal Poll on the contest indicated that, for King to pull out a victory, he would have to win all of the undecided voters while also persuading a share of Martinez’s supporters to abandon her, said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc.
“As we move closer to the election, we find that the governor continues to maintain a very comfortable lead in the race,” Sanderoff said. “We’re less than two weeks out from the election and Gary King is still below 40 percent, despite the Democratic Party’s 47 percent share of statewide voter registration.”
A Journal Poll taken in mid-September found Martinez leading King 54 percent to 36 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
Sanderoff said the governor’s race has been heavily defined by hard-hitting ads from Martinez while King has struggled to raise money and respond effectively.
“The Republican strategy was clearly to pound Gary King from the very first day so that he doesn’t build up momentum, so that the major Democratic Party and union contributors in Washington, DC, and elsewhere would not invest in the race, if they could keep the race perceived as non competitive,” Sanderoff said.
The Democratic Governors Association, which was active in the New Mexico governor’s race four years ago, wrote off the Martinez-King race early on as not a likely win for Democrats.
In the latest survey, Martinez continued to demonstrate strength as a Republican – winning support from large numbers of Democratic voters.
Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in New Mexico voter registration 47 percent to 31 percent, while independents, or voters who decline to state (DTS) a party affiliation, represent 19 percent.
Among Democrats, more than one in four – 28 percent – said they supported the Republican governor over King. Sixty-three percent of Democrats said they supported King.
“That is the winning curve for Republicans,” Sanderoff said of Martinez’s Democratic support.
“Only 31 percent of New Mexico’s registered voters are Republican, and so simple math tells you the only way they can win elections in New Mexico is by picking up a significant proportion of Democratic support,” Sanderoff said. “She is doing that.”
Martinez’s support among Democrats in the latest poll was about the same as her Democratic backing in the earlier Journal survey, in which 27 percent of Democrats favored her. Meanwhile, King gained 4 percentage points over his 59 percent support among Democrats in the last Journal Poll.
By contrast, King drew support from just 7 percent of Republicans in the new poll, while Martinez’s support among Republicans was 86 percent.
Fifty-two percent of independent voters supported Martinez in the latest poll, compared with 32 percent for King and 17 percent who were undecided.
Among voters who described themselves as Hispanic, Martinez drew 40 percent support.
Martinez’s 40 percent share of support from Hispanic voters remains high for a Republican candidate in New Mexico, Sanderoff said.
King had the support of 50 percent of Hispanic voters in the latest poll. Ten percent of Hispanic voters were undecided.
Martinez’s strong support among Anglo voters remained steady, with 59 percent of Anglo voters favoring her and 32 percent backing King.
Among women, New Mexico’s first female governor appeared to lose a little ground in the latest survey but still held an advantage.
Half of female voters said they supported Martinez, while 38 percent said they would vote for King, a 12-point advantage for Martinez.
Martinez held a 19-point lead over King among men, with 57 percent supporting the governor and 38 percent backing King.
The latest poll showed Martinez’s support holding steady in the state’s most politically conservative regions, with significant advantages continuing in the state’s northwestern and southern regions and on New Mexico’s eastside.
Martinez had a 50 percent share among voters surveyed in the Albuquerque metro area, compared with 40 percent for King with 10 percent undecided.
Martinez continued to trail King in the state’s Democratic-leaning north-central region, the only region of the state where King had a lead over the governor – 58 percent to 34 percent, with 9 percent undecided (rounding error included).
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 614 proven voters who cast ballots in the 2010 and 2012 general elections and said they were likely to vote again this year.
The poll was conducted Oct. 21 through Oct. 23. The full voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples.
Research & Polling Inc. generated a random sample in which each New Mexico county received a representative proportion primarily based on turnout patterns in the 2010 general election for governor. When necessary, Research & Polling weights the surveys to reflect the known distribution of age, gender and party affiliation, based on the 2010 election. Historically, voter turnout is much lower in non-presidential election years, such as 2010 and 2014.
Ethnic and racial proportions are based on Research & Polling estimates of turnout patterns.
All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
Both landlines (67 percent) and cellphone numbers (33 percent) of proven general election voters were used.
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