Friday, December 16, 2011

PPP: If Johnson Runs as a LIbertarian, He'd Be a Big Factor in Prez Race

Former Gov. Gary Johnson could be a major factor in the race for New Mexico's five electoral votes if he runs for president on the Libertarian ticket, the latest Public Policy Poll of New Mexico voters says.

I just spoke with Johnson here at the Roundhouse a few minutes ago and while he says he hasn't completely made up his mind about seeking the Libertarian nod, he sounds like that's the direction he's heading in.

Former Gov. Gary Johnson
According to the poll, In a race between Johnson, President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama would get 44 percent, Romney 27 percent and Johnson would get 23 percent.

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the GOP candidate, Obama would get 45 percent, Gingrich 28 percent and Johnson gets 20 percent.

"As a third-party candidate, Johnson would draw 26-30 percent of the Republican votes, 12-16 percent of Democrats, and actually win independents with 31-33 percent," the PPP polling memo says.

Johnson noted that if he actually won the state, he'd be the first Libertarian to win any electoral votes in the state.

Without Johnson in the race, Obama would defeat Romney in New Mexico by 15 percentage points and Gingrich by 17 percentage points.

Obama's approval ratings here are weak. 49 percent approve while 46 percent disapprove, according to the poll. But the Republican candidates poll worse here.

“Barack Obama’s popularity is way down in New Mexico but voters don’t see any of the Republican candidates as serious alternatives,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling in a news release. “It should stay in the Democratic column in 2012.”

The big grain of salt:

PPP is a Democratic polling company. Yesterday, state Republicans, as well as a national GOP pollster, attacked PPP for under-representing GOP voters in the poll.

The breakdown of the poll, taken between Dec. 10 and 12, was 52 percent Democrat, 29 percent Republican and 19 percent independent,  the company's director Tom Jensen said in an email.

According to the Secretary of State's website, the actual registration numbers are 49 percent Dem, 32 percent GOP.

"Our final pre election poll in 2008 that got the result pretty much right on the head was also 52 percent (Democrat)," Jensen said.

Jensen was quoted today by Heath Haussamen saying, "…we had fewer Republicans on today’s poll than the 2008 poll, but we also had a sample of independents that was much more Republican leaning than 2008, as shown by (U.S. Senate candidate Heather) Wilson winning those voters. Party ID shifts over time and people who may have identified as Republican in 2008 are now identifying as independent, but still voting Republican. That’s a product of the Tea Party movement – folks might not want to call themselves Republicans anymore but they’re still supporting GOP candidates under a different label.”

In its news releases, PPP says, "PPP is a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates."

For its general election poll, PPP surveyed 500 New Mexico voters through automated telephone interviews. The margin of error for the survey is 4.4 percent. This poll wasn't paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.

The Johnson numbers
According to PPP, in New Mexico, "45 percent see (Johnson) favorably and 39 percent unfavorably — not overwhelming numbers, but golden compared to the other Republicans, whose favorability ratings range from 21 percent to 28 percent , and unfavorability figures from 54 percent to 67 percent. Johnson is the only candidate more popular than the president, who has a 49-46 approval spread in the state, down just slightly from 50-44 in June.

"Just because he's doing that in New Mexico doesn't really say anything about his ability to do it on a broader scale," the PPP blog says, "but it shows that with folks who are familiar with his message he has support across the spectrum.
PPP Release NM 1216513