Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heinrich, Wilson lead NM primaries

There are clear front runners in both the Democratic and Republican Senate primaries in New Mexico: Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson.

Heinrich leads Hector Balderas 47-24. Heinrich dominates the white vote, leading 58-16. More importantly he also has a slight advantage among Hispanic voters for the time being at 39-36. If Heinrich can remain that competitive with Latinos he will be very difficult to defeat in the primary.

An important part of Heinrich's early lead is far superior name recognition. 73% of primary voters know him well enough to have formed an opinion compared to only 49% for Balderas. Still it's worth noting that even among voters who do know Balderas- whether they view him favorably or unfavorably- Heinrich has a 54-33 advantage. And when you drill down further to only the 29% of voters with a favorable opinion of Balderas Heinrich still leads, albeit by a more narrow margin of 47-40. So Heinrich is better known but that's not the whole reason for his early lead.

Heinrich is strongest with voters on the left and the race gets more competitive moving right across the ideological spectrum. He's up 46 points with 'very liberal' voters, 30 points with 'somewhat liberal' ones, and just 4 points with moderates.

On the Republican side Wilson leads with 52% to 24% for John Sanchez, 8% for Greg Sowards, and 4% for Bill English.

There's been a lot of talk about whether Wilson is weak with the far right and she is weaker with that segment of the party. Still she leads Sanchez 48-31 with 'very conservative' voters. She has a much wider 44 point advantage with 'somewhat conservative' voters and with moderates she's up by 29 points. Maybe she'll have trouble with the Tea Party crowd later in the game but she doesn't start off showing any signs of weakness with them.

Similar to the Democratic side Wilson is helped by having far greater name recognition than Sanchez. 86% of primary voters have an opinion about her compared to 56% for Sanchez. But her lead's still 52-28 with the folks who do know Sanchez and with the ones who have a favorable opinion of Sanchez she's up 50-37 on him. The greater familiarity helps her but even when you control for that she has a healthy advantage.

If by some chance Gary Johnson gave up on his quixotic Presidential bid and ran for the Senate instead it doesn't look like he'd have much luck with the Republican primary electorate. With him in the mix Wilson would still get 43% with Johnson registering at 22% and Sanchez falling to third at 18%.

Long way to go but Heinrich and Wilson are the very clear early front runners.

Full results here

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