ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Voters have a lot on their minds going into the 2022 election this fall. New Mexicans have contended with inflation, the tail end of the pandemic, and a shifting opinions over abortion access, so what are voters’ top priorities?

To find out, KRQE News 13 and Emerson College Polling asked 1,000 New Mexicans what they’re considering in the lead-up to November. And the results show that economic issues are the key topic with the election just 54 days away.

The economy is top-of-mind

When asked what issue is most important for voting this November, 35% of those polled said the economy is the key issue. Other categories, such as crime, housing, education, healthcare, COVID-19, immigration, and abortion were key issues for some, but none of those topics came close to the issue of jobs, inflation, and taxes, according to the poll.

This is the last in a series of three articles about results from KRQE News 13’s election poll. You can find our previous coverage of the poll results on crime here, and our coverage of the poll results on the gubernatorial race here.

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The economy is a key issue likely driving the vote this November. Data: KRQE-Emerson College poll

For many New Mexicans, that’s likely not a surprise. Everyone has felt the recent sting of inflation. From New Mexico’s chile farmers to government-sponsored construction projects, industries across the state have been impacted.

Earlier this year, economic relief became a political talking point as state legislators approved millions of dollars worth of tax rebates. The idea was to provide relief from increased cost of living and the high price of gasoline across the state.

While voters from across the political spectrum care about the economy, nearly half of registered Republicans polled say the economy is the key issue in determining their vote, according to the poll. A little under a quarter of Democrats, on the other hand, say the economy is their key focus. Meanwhile, 38.4% of Independents and other voters say it’s their key issue.

And naturally, economics touches other key issues for voters. After all, challenges with education tie into arguments over teacher pay, staffing police departments requires cash, and access to housing depends heavily on income.

Abortion access: a divisive topic

After the economy, abortion access is a top issue for voters. Out of the 1,000 people polled, 15.1% said it’s the key issue that will determine their vote this November.

Of course, abortion access is often a divisive issue. Poll numbers show that 23.1% of Democrats say it’s the most important issue for deciding their vote. Only 6.4% of Republicans say it’s the most important issue. And 11.6% of Independent voters or voters from other parties say it’s the top issue.

For some voters, the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade is likely to spur on voting. About 50% of those polled say the decision will make it more likely that they’ll vote in the 2022 election. But about 45% of people say it’s not affecting how likely they are to vote.

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For some, the recent Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade is motivating votes. But others say the overturn won’t impact whether they get out to vote. Data: KRQE-Emerson College poll

And it’s not just female voters that say the overturning of Roe v. Wade makes them more likely to vote. Nearly 49% of males polled say the Supreme Court decision has made it somewhat more likely or much more likely that they’ll vote this year. A little over 50% of females polled say it’s made them at least somewhat more likely to vote.

The poll also included a handful of nonbinary voters. About half of the nonbinary respondents said it’s made them much more likely to vote, and the rest said it’s made no difference on their likeliness to vote.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, some states saw drastic changes to legal abortion access. But in New Mexico, state law essentially has no statute restricting abortion, nor does state law have specific protections for abortion. Still, the topic has been a political hot-button issue.

“Now as it’s coming into formation, we’re seeing more and more Democratic voters saying that this is their top issue,” says Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball. “50% of Democratic voters are saying healthcare and abortion access [are top issues], and that’s the bread and butter of the of the Democratic Party messaging.”

Current Governor and candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham has already signed an executive order pledging $10 million for a new abortion clinic. In that announcement, the Governor’s said New Mexico has seen an influx of abortion patients from Texas and other states.

Candidate Mark Ronchetti, on the other hand, has said that he’s “pro-life” and, in a press release in June, promised to “seek a middle ground with our legislature that ends the practice of late-term and partial-birth abortion.” He added that he believes in “permitting abortion up to 15 weeks and in cases involving rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is at risk.”

COVID-19 not a priority for most voters

Of the 1,000 people polled, only 2.1% say COVID-19 is the most important issue in determining their vote. For urban voters, it’s slightly higher, but still only 3.2% of those living in cities say COVID-19 is their top issue.

“I think we’re all rooting against COVID-19 at this point,” says Kimball. “So, it’s great to see that falling lower on our poll.”

Indeed, much of life in New Mexico has returned to “normal.” For the first time since 2019, the New Mexico State Fair is back this year. And many students are back to in-person classes, although some have had to swap back to remote learning.

Crime and healthcare are key issues

Of those polled, around 11% say crime is their top issue. For more info on how crime is playing into this election, see: KRQE-Emerson Poll: Majority of New Mexicans think crime has gotten worse.

Healthcare also ranks relatively high on voters’ minds. Around 11.6% of the 1,000 New Mexicans polled say healthcare is their top issue.

Data shows that healthcare tends to be a priority for minority voters more often than white voters. A little over 16% of Hispanic and Latino voters said healthcare is their top issue for November, and over a quarter of Black and African American voters in New Mexico say their top focus is healthcare. Only about 9% of white voters, however, say it’s their top priority.

Healthcare also shows a party divide. A little over 18% of Democrats say healthcare is their top priority, while less than 3% of Republicans say it’s their top focus.

Environmental issues could play a role

When asking likely voters what could affect their vote, the KRQE-Emerson College poll gave New Mexicans the option to specify a topic not listed. According to Kimball, one of the central themes among the write-in answer were topics generally related to the environment.

In recent years, New Mexicans have seen increasing evidence that climate change mean parts of New Mexico are becoming hotter and some areas are becoming drier. Given the potential impacts, some voters and activists have already called on state politicians to take measures to protect New Mexico’s environment.

Last year, some legislators tried to gain support for a proposed amendment to the New Mexico Constitution, which would have strengthened the right to a clean environment. And during the 2022 legislative session, a local nonprofit held a climate rally at the state’s capitol.

Recently the state has strengthened some environmental protections: In response to an executive order issued in 2019 by Lujan Grisham, the state’s Environmental Department issued new rules for emissions from the oil and gas industry. But recently, the state has experienced challenges in enforcing some environmental regulations. Budget issues in 2022 meant that the Environmental Department couldn’t complete all their inspections.

How do national politics factor in?

Back in 2020, Democratic candidate Joe Biden won New Mexico by about 10 points. But the latest KRQE-Emerson College poll shows that New Mexico’s likely voters are split on Biden. Just over 47% of the 1,000 people polled say they approve of the job Biden is doing. And about 47% say they disapprove.

Still, Biden is “doing better in New Mexico than he’s doing nationally,” says Kimball. “And that makes sense because he ran better in New Mexico.”

Biden’s approval rating is lower among American Indian and Native American voters. The majority of those voters in New Mexico disapprove of the job Biden is doing, the poll shows.

And what about Donald Trump? KRQE News 13 asked voters whether or not the recent news about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s search of Mar-a-Lago has impacted their views of former President Donald Trump, if he runs for office in 2024. Those polled were essentially evenly split between those who said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search has made them more likely to support Trump, those who said the FBI search has made them less likely to support Trump, and those who said the FBI search has made no difference.

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 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.