RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Thousands are expected to fill Santa Ana Star Center for President Donald Trump’s Monday campaign rally, and state Republicans believe he has a shot at winning New Mexico in 2020.
“President Trump’s coming to New Mexico because he believes he can turn the state red,” New Mexico Republican Party Communications Director Delanie Crist said. “We’re anticipating a lot of people getting there early in the morning.”
Whether the president can actually turn New Mexico red, to no surprise, has the state’s political parties divided.
“I really don’t know why he’s coming here and I’m not going to try and guess his motivations,” NM Democratic Party Chair Marg Elliston stated. “I really think New Mexico is a longshot for Trump in 2020. We won every statewide office in 2018. Democrats turned out in record numbers- increasing our turnout from 2016.”
Voter history shows the switch is a stretch.
“It’s really been since the Bush years that a Republican has carried the state in a presidential cycle,” UNM Political Science Professor Gabe Sanchez said.
Additionally, a recent Emerson poll shows Trump’s approval rating in our state down to 35%.
“A lot has shifted toward Democrats both demographically as well as on public policy,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez believes Trump’s campaign pitch for New Mexico will be the economy, a point the state’s Republican party believes is enough to get people to back Trump at the polls in 2020.
“It’s been a massive amount of jobs that have come into our state,” Crist said.
“Everybody counted out President Trump back in the last election cycle so crazier things have happened,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez said Trump’s Monday visit could also put pressure on the Democratic presidential nominee to spend time and money on a campaign stop in New Mexico.
“They almost have to pay attention to us and invest in candidate visits which I think is a good thing for the state,” Sanchez explained.
Sanchez believes a couple of reasons for the president hosting the rally in a somewhat isolated spot in Rio Rancho is because he has a bigger support base there, and to help avoid violent protests like we saw during Trump’s 2016 visit in downtown Albuquerque at the Convention Center.
In the last election, Trump lost in New Mexico by eight points. The Democratic party said while they don’t believe Trump will flip the state come 2020, it’s already working to get more support through a voter registration drive.