Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich leads the presidential race among New Mexico Republicans, while former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson has an even wider lead over her opponents in the U.S. Senate Republican primary race.
However, if the election was this week (instead of 11 months from now), Wilson would lose to Democratic U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich in the general election, 47 percent to 40 percent and, in another scenario, would be tied with Democrat Hector Balderas, the state auditor, at 43 percent each.
That's according to the latest Public Policy Polling surveys of the state published earlier this week.
“Democrats continue to have a modest advantage in the New Mexico Senate contest,”
said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But it looks unlikely they’ll have the kind of cakewalk race they did in 2008 when Tom Udall was overwhelmingly elected to replace Pete Domenici.”
And that race might actually be tighter. Republican pollster Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies tweeted today that the PPP survey over-represents Democrats in this poll by six percentage points. "Reweighted to current (registration) the race is a toss-up: 45percent Heinrich/42 percent Wilson.
According to the poll, Wilson has the support of 55 percent of "usual Republican voters." That's compared with only 20 percent for Lt. Gov. John Sanchez. Las Cruces businessman Greg Sowards came in at 6 percent while Bill English, whose campaign has been virtually invisible in recent months, received 3 percent in the poll.
PPP's poll of state Republicans shows Wilson still leading in a hypothetical match-up including former Gov. Gary Johnson, who currently is running for president. However, Johnson repeatedly has said he has no interest in running for Senate or serving in the Senate -- and I believe him. (PPP, in that scenario shows Wilson with 42 percent, Johnson with 31 percent, Sanchez with 15 percent and the others in single digits.
On the Democratic side, Heinrich has 47 percent to Balderas' 30 percent. Twenty three percent are undecided or back someone else.
New Mexico Republicans apparently don't consider Johnson a favorite son in the presidential race. There, Gingrich leads with 39 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is in a distant second place with 14 percent, while Johnson comes in third at 11 percent.
Part of Johnson's problem here may be that people don't think he has a chance to be nominated -- Johnson himself has said as much -- so they're leaning toward others. But another thing Johnson has going against him among the GOP is that 37 percent of those interviewed had a negative opinion of him. Forty nine percent had a favorable opinion.
PPP says it will publish results of the general election presidential race tomorrow/
PPP surveyed 300 usual New Mexico Republican primary voters and 309 usual Democratic primary voters between last Thursday and Saturday. The margin of error for the survey is 5.7 percent The survey wasn't paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.
PPP is a Democratic polling company, but its results in the last election were fairly accurate.
Here's a couple of PPP news releases with poll numbers:
PPP Release NM Dec. 2011
PPP poll NM 12-15-2011