Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Mexico Odds and Ends

-Most of the Republicans elected Governor in Obama states last November have quickly become very unpopular. Not so in the case of New Mexico's Susana Martinez. 52% of voters approve of the job she's doing to 37% who disapprove. Beyond that she would win a hypothetical rematch with opponent Diane Denish by a 53-44 margin, actually a little bit better than the 7 point spread she won by last fall.

There are a couple things particularly striking in Martinez's numbers. One is her standing with Democrats- 32% approve of her to 56% who disapprove. There aren't a lot of GOP Governors in blue states who have a third of their Democratic constituents behind him. The other is how she fares with Hispanics- 49% approve to 41% disapproving. New Mexico's Latino voters went even more Democratic in 2008 than that voter bloc did nationally so being on positive ground with them is a pretty good feat.

A female Hispanic Governor who's maintaining her popularity as she governs a blue state? Martinez would be at the top of my VP list for next year if I was a Republican strategist.

-Our polling consistently finds New Mexico to have one of the most popular Senate delegations in the country and this go around is no exception. 58% of voters approve of Jeff Bingaman's job performance compared to 29% who disapprove. That puts him 7th in popularity out of 85 Senators we've polled on in the last year and change. Democrats love him and he also has the approval of a third of Republicans, as well as a greater than 2:1 approval spread with independents.

Tom Udall can't quite stack up to Bingaman's popularity but his 48/31 approval spread still puts him in about the 70th percentile of all Senators who we've polled on. He has similar numbers to Bingaman with Democrats but only about a fifth of Republicans gives him good marks and he's also a little weaker with independents.

-Congressman Steve Pearce has a 40/40 favorability rating statewide. That doesn't seem too bad given how badly he got trounced in his 2008 Senate campaign- suggests there's been a bit of a recovery in his numbers over the last two and a half years. Ben Ray Lujan's statewide spread is 30/34, making him the least popular member of the state's House delegation. Martin Heinrich earns tops honors on that front- last week we showed him at a positive 36/32.

-Voters in the state are narrowly opposed to gay marriage but strongly support granting at least some form of legal recognition to same sex couples. 42% think gay marriage should be legal to 48% opposed. Respondents under 65 narrowly support it but are outweighed by 58/30 opposition among senior citizens. Only 30% of voters oppose any legal recognition for gay couples though with 37% supporting full marriage rights and another 31% favoring civil unions. Even among Republicans there's 54/44 support for gay marriage/civil unions as opposed to no recognition.

-When it comes to former Governor Bill Richardson absence clearly does not make the heart grow fonder. Just 27% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 63% with a negative one. Most striking is that even Democrats- by a 47/41 margin- say they view the former Governor in a negative light. His numbers with independents (25/67) and Republicans (5/87) are about as bad as they could possibly be. There are few politicians in the country who've managed to become as unpopular as Richardson without a major scandal.

Full results here


Kreationz said...

I personally don't seeing anything surprising about these numbers. I wonder if having a popular female governor helped Bachmann's support there? Could N.M. be in play for 2012 for the red side of the ticket? Gary is still popular there, but Richardson's numbers show that the state is very opinionated when it comes to past elected officials. Martinez's election seems to have been a referendum on Richardson.

Jon said...

When did Republicans learn the Southern Strategy was politically toxic?

wt said...

You absolutely pinpoint the variables that the GOP will be looking for in order to find its VP candidate next year.

For that reason, it would be interesting to do Marco Rubio or Susanna Martinez favorables in any swing state you poll, e.g. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, etc.

Alternatively, a question as to whether a VP candidacy of either individual would make a voter more, less, or similarly likely to vote for the GOP nominee.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting results, especially that Martinez has actually gotten more popular since the election last fall, unlike most of her fellow Republican governors.

Also, thanks so much for doing two separate questions about same-sex marriage/civil unions. As always it's interesting to see how the numbers match up when civil unions is and is not an option, and it's great to see numbers on the issue for the state of New Mexico which I"ve never seen before. It's greatly appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

Be careful! Sarah Palin was also a popular female Republican governor of a relatively small state.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Alternatively, a question as to whether a VP candidacy of either individual would make a voter more, less, or similarly likely to vote for the GOP nominee."

We asked that about Rubio in Florida, and it didn't make a difference even to his home-state voters.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in New Mexico for over 40 years and Martinez is NOT popular. The State Courts have had to slap her down several times in her 6 months in office for her attempts at dictatorial overreach. She is basically a cop who ran a dysfunctional, and some say very corrupt, office during her tenure here in Las Cruces. She will not win another term and the idea of her as a VP pick is a joke much like the quitter queen Scara Palin who endorsed her.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: Not so. Susana may not be popular in the north central part of the state but she's done a good job governing from the center-right.

If she continues on her current path, she really could do some damage to the Democratic Party in NM, particularly in light of the Bill Richardson legacy.

@Tom: Bill Richardson may not have had a scandal, but I'd argue many in NM see his entire term as a never-ending and unfolding scandal. There are a lot of pay-for-play investigations going on, his Secretary of State is being prosecuted for official misconduct, and a number of vanity projects put in place during his term are going deeply into the red (Rail Runner), with precious little positive to say about the years he governed the state.

NM is light blue, but Dems are in real danger here. Anonymous notes the court rulings against Susana; the flip side is that these cases were brought by Democrats to compel more spending, and the line-item vetoes (clearly unconstitutional) had a pragmatic political touch.

Susana is a savvy politician, and not to be underestimated. I'm interested to see how much she can move the needle of Hispanic party affiliation in NM.

Anonymous said...

Susana Martinez is NOT a "savvy politician." She has not lived up to her campaign promises, nor has she kept her word about focusing on job creation. In fact, rather than creating jobs, she attacked the strongest job creator that we had in New Mexico: the film industry. It has gone from a vibrant, thriving employer of thousands, to...virtually nada. I am a conservative Republican, but I rue the day that we elected this woman! She is NOT very popular here--not even among my conservative friends from the southern part of the state. Unless she changes radically, definitely a one term governor!!!

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