WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds a slight lead over Republican Donald Trump among likely New Mexico voters in a four-way race, while Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is pulling nearly a quarter of voter support in the state, according to a Journal poll.
The poll numbers appear to reflect the gloomy mood of voters regarding the presidential candidates and the state of the country.
Sixty-three percent said they believed the country was on the wrong track.
Clinton received 35 percent support and Trump 31 percent support. Twenty-four percent of New Mexicans favored Johnson, a former governor of the state, while 2 percent favored Green Party candidate Jill Stein, according to the poll conducted last week by Research & Polling Inc.
“The election is close in New Mexico,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. “The bottom line is that New Mexico is more competitive than I expected.”
Six percent of respondents in the Journal’s presidential poll said they remained undecided, or didn’t know who they would cast a ballot for on Election Day. The poll was conducted from Sept. 27-29, beginning the day after the first presidential debate.
When the third-party candidates – Johnson and Stein – were removed from the Journal poll and voters were asked who they preferred in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Clinton, Clinton’s lead increased from four points to 10 points.
Forty-four percent of likely New Mexico voters voiced a preference for Clinton compared to 34 percent who favored Trump when the polling question included only those two candidates.
But 11 percent of poll respondents said they wouldn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump in a head-to-head matchup, while 3 percent mentioned an “other” candidate. Eight percent were undecided or didn’t know whom they would vote for if the choices were only Clinton or Trump.
Sanderoff said Johnson’s presence in the race is hurting Clinton more than Trump in New Mexico. He said the former two-term New Mexico governor garnered the support of 31 percent of New Mexico Hispanics, who traditionally tend to vote heavily Democratic in the state.
“Johnson is picking up Hispanic support, and that is what is keeping Hillary Clinton down,” he said.
Still, Clinton holds a solid lead over Trump among Hispanics in New Mexico, according to the poll. Forty percent of Hispanics said they would vote for Clinton while 18 percent said they would vote for Trump. Stein polled at zero percent support among Hispanics in New Mexico.
Sanderoff said Clinton needs more support among Hispanics to count on victory in New Mexico.
“The Democratic candidate needs to be getting much more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to win New Mexico comfortably,” he said.
Among female voters polled, 38 percent said they would vote for Clinton while 27 percent voiced their support for Trump. Johnson had the support of 24 percent of females polled. Three percent of New Mexico females said they preferred Stein.
One of the bright spots for Trump in the Journal poll came courtesy of male voters in the state. Thirty-five percent of New Mexico males said they’d vote for Trump while 31 percent said they favored Clinton. Johnson had the support of 25 percent of male voters in New Mexico, while Stein registered 2 percent support.
Clinton garnered the support of just 3 percent of Republicans polled while 9 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Trump. Twenty percent of Democrats said they would vote for Johnson while 23 percent of Republicans said they would support the former New Mexico governor.
“Anti-Trump Republicans are moving to Johnson, not to Clinton,” Sanderoff said
Among independent voters – or those who declined to state a party affiliation – Gary Johnson led all candidates in the four-way field. Among these voters, Johnson had 42 percent support, while Clinton polled at 26 percent, Trump at 14 percent and Stein at 6 percent.
“Some of Gary Johnson’s support is due to many voters disliking both major party candidates,” Sanderoff said.
Those with the highest levels of education – a graduate degree or more – preferred Clinton over Trump by a more than two-to-one margin. Among these voters, 51 percent said they would vote for Clinton while just 22 percent said they would support Trump. Nineteen percent of voters with graduate degrees said they would vote for Gary Johnson and 3 percent voiced support for Stein.
Trump led Clinton by more than a two-to-one margin – 52 percent to 20 percent – among New Mexico voters on the conservative eastern side of the state.
“It is not surprising that Donald Trump would perform really well in this rural and conservative part of the state,” Sanderoff said. “Eastern New Mexico has long been a bastion of support for Republican candidates.”
The poll surveyed 501 likely New Mexico voters and contained a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent. All of the poll respondents were questioned by live interviewers, with 52 percent of respondents reached by cellphone and 48 percent on land lines.