The top two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates have leads in potential matchups with the top three Republican candidates, a new poll finds.
Democrat Hector Balderas leads Republican John Sanchez 39 percent to 35 percent, Republican Heather Wilson 45 percent to 39 percent, and Republican Greg Sowards 42 percent to 28 percent, the poll from the left-leaning group Public Policy Polling finds.
Meanwhile, Democrat Martin Heinrich leads Sanchez 45 percent to 39 percent, Wilson 47 percent to 42 percent, and Sowards 46 percent to 34 percent.
The Democrats’ leads are small and close to the margin of error, except against Sowards. The poll, which was conducted between Thursday and Sunday, surveyed 732 New Mexico voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
The poll left out two little-known candidates – Democrat Andres Valdez and Republican William S. English.
From a news release about the poll:
“While crossover support is either even or to the Republican’s advantage in each matchup, the Democrats have a significant advantage with independents aside from the Sanchez-Balderas race. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 51-32, that’s a recipe for a Democratic victory.”
“This race is going to be competitive but it has a clear lean toward the Democrats,” Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in the release. “Wilson and Sanchez probably aren’t strong enough candidates to win the seat if Barack Obama simultaneously takes the state by double digits as he did in 2008.”
The group plans to release additional poll numbers related to the presidential race on Wednesday and the Senate primaries later in the week.
Update, 11:25 p.m.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to put out this response from spokesman Jahan Wilcox:
“If this is what a Democrat polling firm’s numbers show, than it’s clear that the New Mexico Senate race will be among the most competitive in the country next year. There will be a clear choice for New Mexicans between either Martin Heinrich, the D.C. establishment’s handpicked candidate, or Hector Balderas, both of whom support job-killing tax hikes and more government spending, versus a common-sense Republican candidate with a pro-jobs agenda.”