Democrats and Republicans alike have been quick to blast out news about a poll of a potential 2018 gubernatorial matchup. But perhaps the most interesting finding in the survey is that the vast majority of New Mexicans think the state his headed in the wrong direction.
In fact, 73 percent of the 605 registered, “likely” voters surveyed said the state is headed down the wrong track. That’s especially significant given that the poll was conducted by a respected GOP firm for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., and comes as Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s tenure is winding down.
The poll tested a possible gubernatorial matchup between two current members of the U.S. House — Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor, and Pearce, who is considering joining the race. It found Lujan Grisham leading Pearce 47-43 percent, with 10 percent undecided.
Lujan Grisham highlighted the poll in a fundraising email.
“This is huge: A brand new poll shows us LEADING the likely Republican opponent by four points!” the email states. “But this margin is way too close for us to be complacent – the need to elect Democratic Governors has never been greater.”
The state GOP, meanwhile, said the poll shows Lujan Grisham’s weakness and Pearce’s strength.
“New Mexicans know Pearce’s background as a businessman gives him the knowledge necessary to strengthen our economy,” Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi said in a news release. “While many in the media were quick to coronate Lujan Grisham as the next governor, this poll shows that she’ll have considerable challenges if she continues to run as a rubber stamp on the failed legislative agenda of the Democrats.”
The survey was conducted by The Terrance Group from May 20-23. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Among the other highlights:
- U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico was 41 percent, with 55 percent viewing the Republican unfavorably.
- Most people surveyed — 54 percent — said they disapprove of the job Democrats in the N.M. Legislature are doing, while 37 percent said they approve. Democrats control both the state House and Senate.
- Some 43 percent of those surveyed said they would prefer a Republican governor so “that one party does not control things and liberal Democrats do not have a blank check.” Meanwhile, 35 percent said they would prefer a Democratic governor so “the Democrats can control things and the Democrats can pass all their programs.”
- Among issues, those survey ranked K-12 public education as the most important (27 percent), followed by the economy at 16 percent, jobs and unemployment at 11 percent, poverty at 7 percent and spending and taxes at 5 percent.
It’s worth noting that Lujan Grisham faces a primary battle with several other candidates. There’s not yet a declared Republican candidate in the race for governor.