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Journal Poll: Obama Outpaces McCain in N.M.

By Michael Coleman
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Washington Bureau

          Barack Obama has expanded his lead over John McCain in the contest for New Mexico's five electoral votes, according to a Journal Poll conducted during the final week of the presidential election campaign.
        The Democratic nominee led McCain, a Republican, by eight points — 51 percent to 43 percent — in the Oct. 28-30 statewide survey of voters who said they had voted early or are likely to vote in Tuesday's election.
        Five percent of the New Mexico voters polled said they were undecided and one percent said "none of the above."

        A month ago, a Journal Poll found Obama leading McCain by five points — 45-40 percent.
        In Albuquerque, the state's largest population center, Obama led McCain by 22 points, with 58 percent voters surveyed in the area supporting him to 36 percent for McCain.
        "The reason that Barack Obama has the lead he has is because of Albuquerque," said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff.
        Women were more likely than men to vote for Obama, with 52 percent of female respondents saying they favored the Illinois senator and 42 percent preferring the Arizona senator.
        Fifty percent of male respondents said they would vote for Obama, while 44 percent said they would choose McCain.
        Obama had overwhelming support among New Mexico Hispanic voters, the Journal Poll found. Two-thirds of Hispanic voters surveyed — 66 percent said they preferred Obama to 25 percent for McCain. Seven percent of Hispanics are undecided and Sanderoff said "some of those may eventually go for McCain."
        President George W. Bush made major inroads among historically Democratic-voting Hispanics in 2004, capturing 38 percent of their vote in New Mexico. That margin helped propel him to victory over Democrat John Kerry in the state four years ago.

        Hispanics comprise about 43 percent of New Mexico's total population. Obama traveled to heavily Democratic northern New Mexico and rallied voters in Española in September. McCain hasn't made an appearance north of Albuquerque, but campaigned last week in Mesilla in southern New Mexico, another Hispanic-rich area of the state.
        "This time, Barack Obama is getting the lion's share of the Hispanic vote," Sanderoff said. "For a Democrat to win New Mexico, they need to do really well among Hispanics. Barack Obama is doing that."
        However, Anglo voters preferred McCain 52 percent to 43 percent for Obama.
        The Journal Poll found independent voters were more likely to support Obama than McCain. Forty-nine percent of poll respondents who identified themselves as independent — actually those who "decline to state" a party affiliation in New Mexico — said they preferred Obama, while 34 percent said they favored McCain.
        Eleven percent of independents responding to the poll said they remained undecided about the presidential race.
        McCain performed slightly better among voters in his own party than Obama did with his: 88 percent of Republicans said they would vote for McCain and 83 percent of Democrats said they supported Obama.
        Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Mexico, and McCain hadn't garnered enough Democratic support at the time of the poll to carry the state, Sanderoff said.
        "There is not a lot of cross-over voting going on, and, for the Republicans to win, they typically need to get around 20 percent of the Democratic vote and slightly more independents," Sanderoff said. "McCain hasn't picked up as many Democrats as he needs and Obama is ahead on independents.
        "People are pretty much voting along party lines, but the independents are moving toward Obama," Sanderoff said.
        McCain polled better than Obama among New Mexico voters between 35 and 49 years of age, with 49 percent of those voters supporting him compared with 43 percent for Obama. But Obama had more support than McCain among younger and older voters.
        Geographically, Obama outpolled McCain in these areas of the state: central, or Albuquerque metro (58-36 percent); north-central (70-30 percent); southwest (48-41 percent). McCain outpolled Obama in these areas: northwest (69-26 percent); and eastern (58-34 percent) regions of the state.