Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of three articles about results from a recent KRQE News 13 poll. For more on what New Mexican voters are saying about crime, click here. For more on what New Mexicans are saying about what’s driving their vote, click here.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — If the governor’s election was today, do you know who you’d vote for? That’s one of the questions KRQE News 13 posed to would-be voters in a new poll aimed at gauging the political climate.

Through a series of questions posed to 1,000 New Mexicans, a poll conducted by Emerson College Polling reveals who has the edge in the race for the governor’s office. And the results show it’s a close race.

About 48% of the 1,000 people polled say they’d vote for incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham if the election were held right now. And just over 43% say they’d vote for candidate Mark Ronchetti.

“In the head-to-head matchup, we have the incumbent governor up by about five points,” says Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball. But, Kimball adds, “they’re both popular.”

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Voters from each party tend to say they’d vote for the governor candidate within their party, but Independents and other voters are split. Data: KRQE-Emerson College poll

Only 5.2% of those polled say they are undecided on which governor candidate to vote for. Converting that indecision into votes may come down to a popularity contest, Kimball says. And the data shows there are more people who see Lujan Grisham as “unfavorable” than there are people who see Ronchetti as “unfavorable.”

“What’s concerning for Lujan Grisham is that her ‘unfavorables’ is up at 46%,” Kimball says. “Ronchetti is down at 41%, So he’s got a little bit more space there in that popularity contest.”

Of the 1,000 people polled, just over 51% see Ronchetti as “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable.” And just over 52% see Lujan Grisham as “somewhat” or “very” favorable. That difference is within the margin of error, so it’s essentially a tied race for favorability.

“In other races we’ve seen around the country, the amount of negative ads have brought down [favorability],” says Kimball. This forces voters to choose between two unpopular candidates. But here, things are different. “It seems like in New Mexico, you’re looking at the best of the two,” he says.

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Candidate Lujan Grisham has a bit more name recognition heading into the November election. Data: KRQE-Emerson College poll

For the most part, candidate favorability falls along party lines. Over 90% of people who say they voted for Donald Trump in 2020 find Ronchetti favorable. And just under 90% of those who say they voted for Biden in 2020 find Lujan Grisham favorable.

And given the political split between rural and urban areas in New Mexico, it’s no surprise that Lujan Grisham has found slightly more favor among urban voters, while Ronchetti has found more support among rural voters. Suburban voters, on the other hand, seem fairly split between the two candidates.

But there is a gender divide among the candidates. Female voters are more consistently supporting Lujan Grisham, while the male vote is split, according to results from KRQE News 13’s poll.

“There’s a pretty big gender divide in the state, where you’re seeing the female vote — and we’re seeing this consistently across the country — breaking for the Democratic candidate,” Kimball says. “What’s happening with the male vote is it’s splitting in New Mexico.”

In other states, Kimball adds, the male vote seems to lean Republican. But not in New Mexico.

Nearly 50% of females polled say they’d vote for Lujan Grisham if the election were held today. Just over 40% of females say they’d vote for Ronchetti. Meanwhile, 46.8% of males say they’d vote for Ronchetti and another 46.8% say they’d vote for Lujan Grisham.

For voters that are undecided, Lujan Grisham does have more name recognition heading into November. Only 6% of undecided voters have no opinion of Lujan Grisham or have never heard of her. But 30% of undecided voters have never heard of, or have no opinion of, Ronchetti.

Details behind the numbers

While no poll is perfect, the New Mexico poll of likely voters by Emerson College Polling is intended to provide an accurate picture of what’s happening across New Mexico. Nexstar Media Group commissioned the poll for KRQE News 13, which covers 1,000 people who are likely to vote in New Mexico this fall.

In addition, each of the likely voters who took the poll stated that they were registered to vote. Poll takers who said they were not registered to vote were eliminated from the results.

Emerson College Polling conducted the poll from September 8-11, 2022. The data comes from people across the state. Emerson The results are intended to represent voter turnout, so input from voters in Albuquerque is proportional to the share of New Mexico voters who are likely to turn out in Albuquerque.

Results were collected through several methods. Emerson College Polling used phone calls, emails, text messaging, and an online panel. The poll has a plus-or-minus ratio of three percentage points, and demographic comparisons have a higher ratio due to the sample size.