ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s months away until the general election and the COVID-19 pandemic remains a big factor in the race. University of New Mexico Political Science professor Gabe Sanchez expects both parties to push for more virtual campaigning, something Democrats and Republicans in the state have already started.
“Given that we essentially had much greater turnout expected in the primary, that is an indicator there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm for both parties,” said Sanchez. Sanchez said he is expecting record-setting voter turnout in New Mexico for this year’s general election, but the pandemic is changing how campaigns reach out to New Mexicans.
“When we think about campaigning in this particular time period, one thing that becomes more vital in the ground game,” said Sanchez. “Not thinking door to door in person, but text messaging and who has the greatest database of potential voters.”
Democrats said they’re staying away from the traditional door-to-door campaigning until the pandemic settles down. They said they’ll do more distanced outreach, like texting, emails and phone calls.
“There’s a lot of challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re trying to reach out safely and responsibly,” said Democratic Party of New Mexico communications director Miranda van Dijk. “One of the things we’ve focused on is using technology to reach out to as many people as possible. We’re running a fantastic texting program.”
Republicans said they’ll use technology too but are also doing traditional in-person campaigning across the state while keeping social distancing in mind. “We currently have the largest ground game we’ve ever seen in New Mexico on the Republican side being executed as we speak,” said Republican Party of New Mexico Executive Director Anissa Tinnin. “We have people out knocking on doors.”
Political analysts said since the pandemic could put a hold on presidential candidates visiting the state, we can expect to see more campaign TV ads. It’s something President Trump has already done in Albuquerque and a Las Cruces TV station reported Joe Biden has bought airtime down there. Campaigns are picking up speed here in New Mexico in the race for the White House.
“We wanted to make sure we were running a self-coordinating campaign while reaching enough democrats as possible,” said van Dijk.
“We’re gonna win this at the ground level and that’s where we’re working very hard,” said Tinnin.
New Mexico has about 1.2 million registered voters, according to the Secretary of State. The state Democratic Party said they’ve reached out to 20,000 voters since mid-July. Republicans are claiming a much higher number, saying they’ve reached out to a million voters.
It’s still unknown whether President Trump or Joe Biden will make their way to New Mexico before the November election. President Trump lost New Mexico by eight points in the last presidential election.