WASHINGTON – When New Mexico Republican voters were asked which of the two Democratic presidential candidates they viewed more favorably, more than half of the respondents in a Journal Poll – without prompting from the person conducting the survey – said they didn’t view either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton favorably.
That said, Sanders easily outdistanced Clinton among those who viewed one of the Democratic contenders favorably.
Thirty-four percent of New Mexico Republicans polled Feb. 16-18 said they viewed Sanders more favorably than Clinton, while 9 percent said they had a more favorable view of Clinton.
A Journal Poll published Sunday showed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with a one-point lead over New York billionaire Donald Trump among New Mexico Republicans who are likely to vote in the state’s June 7 primary election. Cruz had 25 percent of support among New Mexico Republicans while Trump had 24 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finished third in the Journal Poll of likely Republican voters in New Mexico with 19 percent of support.
The poll surveyed 403 New Mexico Republicans who are likely to vote in the Republican primary election. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
Lonna Atkeson, director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico, said, “It’s not surprising that most Republicans find both Democrats unacceptable.”
“But it’s odd that the self-proclaimed Republicans would prefer the socialist (Sanders) to the moderate (Clinton),” Atkeson said. “My theory is that Trump supporters find Sanders more favorable – outsiders prefer outsiders.”
Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc., which conducted the poll, said it’s likely that Clinton is viewed more unfavorably than Sanders among New Mexico Republicans because they are more familiar with her.
“Hillary Clinton has been around a long time and Republicans have formed their opinion of her, and many of them don’t like her,” Sanderoff said. “Few Republicans are willing to say that they view Hillary more favorably than Bernie Sanders.”
Sanders’ popularity among younger voters – often dubbed millennials – is evident among younger New Mexico Republicans, too. Among voters ages 18 to 34, 47 percent said they viewed Sanders more favorably than Clinton, while just 13 percent said they viewed Clinton more favorably than Sanders.
“Bernie Sanders has an interesting phenomenon of having a tremendous support level among young Democrats, but even among young Republicans they are more likely to have a more favorable opinion of Bernie than Hillary,” Sanderoff said.
Clinton performed best among New Mexico Republicans with a graduate degree, but even among this group of educated voters, Sanders was viewed more favorably.
That so many Republicans view Sanders and Clinton unfavorably is not surprising given the political climate in America, Sanderoff said.
“These are polarizing times in American politics,” Sanderoff said.