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« Strategy Memo: The Airport Tour | Blog Home Page | MN: Divided Polls »

NM: Dems Lead

In a year of change, no state will get more of it than New Mexico, as Senator Pete Domenici's retirement set off a chain of dominos that left all three of the state's congressional seats open. Domenici may have picked the wrong year, though, as Democrats lead in a new poll in all three districts.

The Research & Polling Inc. polls conducted for the Albuquerque Journal surveyed 400 registered voters in the First District and 401 in the Second District, both with margins of error of +/- 4.9%. In the Albuquerque-based first district, GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and former Albuquerque city councilman Martin Heinrich, the Democrat, were tested. In the southern Second District, it was Republican businessman Ed Tinsley matched up against ex-Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague.

In the heavily Democratic Third District, 201 voters were surveyed for a margin of error of +/- 7%. State Public Regulation Commission chair Ben Lujan was tested against Republican Dan East and independent Carol Miller in the northern district.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Heinrich.......47 / 73 / 12 / 44
White..........43 / 20 / 81 / 30

Teague.........45 / 77 / 9 / 32
Tinsley........41 / 13 / 79 / 36

Lujan..........51
East...........23
Miller.........12

The First and Second districts are currently held by Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, both of whom ran for Senate. No Democrat has ever held the First District as it currently exists, while the last Democrat to hold the Second District, Harold Runnels, passed away in 1980.

Both Democrats who now hold statistically tiny leads will benefit from a pro-Barack Obama wave. Heinrich is doing best among lesser-educated voters, while White's appeal among Democrats is indicative of his reputation as a strong candidate. Teague is performing well in the eastern part of the district, traditionally a more Republican area and the Democrat's political base.

Lujan, running in the most Democratic district in the state, is likely to succeed Rep. Tom Udall, who is the heavy favorite to win Domenici's Senate seat.