Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of two articles about results from KRQE News 13’s poll. For more on what’s driving New Mexicans to vote, click here.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — It’s a close race for the governor’s office. The latest poll from KRQE News 13 shows just how close the race really is down the final stretch.
Through a series of questions posed to 1,000 New Mexicans, a poll conducted by Emerson College Polling reveals that the gap between Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti and Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham has tightened. Across the state, it’s almost an even race.
Race for the governor’s office
“The polls suggest it is a tight race,” says KRQE News 13 Political Analyst Gabe Sanchez. “At the end of the day, all this hinges on turnout.”
The latest KRQE – Emerson College poll, conducted October 25 through October 28, shows that 50% of voters view Lujan Grisham favorably, while 49% of voters see Ronchetti as favorable. Overall, 49% of people polled plan to help get Lujan Grisham re-elected, while 46% plan on helping Ronchetti get the win.
If you consider which way undecided voters tend to lean, the race comes down to a two-percentage-point lead in Lujan Grisham’s favor. But, of course, that means both candidates have a fighting chance.
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The latest poll number show a close race for the governor’s office. Data from KRQE – Emerson College Polling.
“Michelle Lujan Grisham is learning from Democrats’ past mistakes,” Sanchez says. “The fact that Michelle Lujan Grisham is pulling out all the big-name surrogates [including an endorsement from former President Obama], to me says she probably feels good where she is at with polling but knows she has to get her base to turn out in high numbers in order for this to be victorious.”
As for Ronchetti, the latest poll shows that he seems to have closed the gap. Since KRQE News 13’s previous poll in September, Ronchetti has gained a few percentage points, although the small gains are within the poll’s margin of error. Still, Sanchez says Ronchetti is likely feeling he has a chance.
Ronchetti knows the numbers suggest he’s within fighting distance, Sanchez says. “And he’s got to think: ‘If I can just keep rallying my base down the stretch, I can peel off enough moderate Democrats and Independent voters,’ he has a legitimate shot.”
Ronchetti’s strongest support comes from the southern half of the state, in Congressional District 2. There, he has a 53% majority.
Lujan Grisham, on the other hand, has a slight majority in central and northern New Mexico. The latest poll places her at 51% in Congressional District 1 and Congressional District 3.
While the race for the governor’s office is nearly a dead heat, some other races aren’t so close. In the hotly contested race for who will represent New Mexico’s southern half in congress, Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell has a ten-point lead.
In the race for Congressional District 2, 54% of voters say they plan to vote for Herrell. After accounting for undecided voters, only 44% of people say they plan on voting for Democratic challenger Gabriel Vasquez.
In Congressional District 3, representing New Mexico’s northern half and most of the eastern edge of the state, Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez has the lead, with 53% of voters. If you account for undecided voters, that increases to 58% support for Teresa Leger Fernandez. Only 40% of voters say they plan on voting for Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson.
Support that could make or break a candidate
With such a close race for the governor’s office, candidates have to make key choices to pull ahead. And it’s not clear just how the recent announcement that President Biden will visit New Mexico will affect Lujan Grisham’s campaign.
“You usually think of having the president on your home turf as being a positive,” Sanchez says. “But in this environment, where Biden’s approval ratings are low and dipping, that is a dangerous proposition for Governor Lujan Grisham.”
The latest KRQE – Emerson College poll shows that 49% of New Mexico’s voters disapprove of the job Biden is doing. Only 45% approve of Biden.
But Sanchez says that if Lujan Grisham plays her cards right, the visit could still help. After all, Biden’s approval rating among Hispanic and Latino voters is slightly higher.
“When you look closely at approval rating numbers,” Sanchez says, “where Biden is performing better is Hispanic or Latino voters. And Lujan Grisham knows.”
“So, [Lujan Grisham] probably perceives this might be a little dangerous to have the President, the Vice President, and other surrogates from the Democratic Party come through New Mexico,” Sanchez adds. “But if it helps rally turnout among Hispanic voters — where all polling suggests Lujan Grisham, as well as Vasquez, are doing much, much better than their Republican counterparts — that might make the difference.”
Another factor that could make or break a campaign is turnout. So far, early voter turnout seems to favor Democratic candidates, Sanchez says. But Sanchez expects Republicans to turn out in high numbers on election day. So, he cautions Democratic voters to not get too excited until day-of vote tallies come in.
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 very 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 October 25 – 28, 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 very 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 overall poll has a plus-or-minus ratio of three percentage points, and demographic comparisons have a higher ratio due to the sample size.