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Editorial: Journal polls show strong opinions on key initiatives

No big surprises, really. The results of four Journal polls taken last week were definitive and echoed previous polls on several of the issues.

Research & Polling Inc. queried 402 New Mexico registered voters on four important issues legislators are wrestling with in the current session – driver’s licenses for undocumented residents (70 percent oppose), requiring schools to retain third-graders who can’t read at grade level (67 percent favor), raising the minimum wage (71 percent favor) and requiring workers to pay union dues even if they are not union members (60 percent oppose).

The survey, with 52 percent of the calls made to cell phones, was a scientific sample giving proper weight to whether respondents were Democrats, Republicans or registered voters who decline to state a party. It took into account age, ethnicity, education and geography. While there were variations based on all of the above, the bottom line when all were considered was resounding.

None of these four issues is a new topic of debate for the Legislature. Driver’s license reforms and third-grade retention, for example, have been on Gov. Susana Martinez’ to-do list since she campaigned for her first term. And Democrats have frequently attempted to pass a minimum wage increase, while there has been considerable right-to-work legislation and the issue of employee choice.

While those who were queried spoke strongly on these issues, a legislature is a representative form of government that is not necessarily driven by the results of opinion polls only, nor should it be.

However, because the messages in these and previous surveys are so clear, lawmakers would be wise to consider them as a measure of voter sentiment when they debate the issues that are important to the state’s residents.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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