SANTA FE – As the campaign enters its final week, Democratic candidates are leading a series of statewide races in New Mexico – the closest of which is a seven-point edge for Laura Montoya in the race for treasurer, according to a Journal Poll.
Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver ran up the biggest margin, outdistancing her closest competitor by 15 percentage points, according to the scientific survey conducted Oct. 20-27 by Research & Polling Inc.
Democrat Raúl Torrez was up 10 points in the open race for attorney general, and Stephanie Garcia Richard had an eight-point lead in her bid for reelection as land commissioner.
Four years ago, Democrats swept every statewide race in New Mexico, but Republicans have had some success in other election cycles. In 2014, for example, Democrats and Republicans each won three of the six statewide executive offices.
“More times than not, the Democrats win these races unless there’s an outlier, such as the mood for the state leaning more Republican, or the Democratic candidate having some baggage,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc.
“In these low-profile races,” Sanderoff said, “often the voter doesn’t have that much information to go on, and they’re more likely to go on their party affiliation.”
But the poll results outline some differences in this year’s campaigns.
Secretary of state
She had support from 50% of voters in the Journal Poll, while Republican Audrey Trujillo had 35%.
Libertarian Mayna Myers picked up support from 4% of voters.
“Maggie Toulouse Oliver has a lot of name recognition and experience in administering elections,” Sanderoff said. “In fact, she may end up leading the ticket among Democrats in the statewide races.”
Toulouse Oliver was especially strong among Hispanic and female voters.
Attorney general’s race
Torrez, the district attorney in Bernalillo County, is also a familiar face to the public as a prosecutor in the Albuquerque area.
But his record in office has also been targeted by Republicans who have linked him to the state’s high crime rate.
In the Journal Poll, Torrez won support from 49% of voters while Republican Jeremy Gay was favored by 39%.
Gay, a former judge advocate in the Marine Corps, showed strength on the east side of the state, which includes the conservative oil patch in southeastern New Mexico.
He had support from 56% of voters on the east side, to just 25% for Torrez.
Torrez, by contrast, was favored by 61% of voters in north-central New Mexico, which includes Santa Fe and traditional Democratic strongholds. Gay was favored by 21% of voters in the area.
The geographic pattern – with Republicans doing especially well in the east, Democrats in the north – held true in all four races.
Torrez and Gay are competing to succeed Democrat Hector Balderas, who couldn’t run for attorney general this year because of term limits.
Race for treasurer
The narrowest race of the four was the contest for treasurer – an open seat held for the last eight years by Democrat Tim Eichenberg.
Laura Montoya, the Democratic candidate, had a seven-point advantage over Republican Harry Montoya. They aren’t related.
She picked up support from 46% of likely voters while Harry Montoya had support from 39%.
The race pits two lesser-known candidates against each other. Laura Montoya is a former Sandoval County treasurer, and Harry Montoya is a former Santa Fe County commissioner, a position he held while registered as a Democrat.
Harry Montoya also served on the Pojoaque school board.
Garcia Richard, a Democrat and former state legislator, was up by eight points as she seeks reelection to the state Land Office.
In the poll, 46% of voters supported her while Republican Jefferson Byrd, a member of the Public Regulation Commission, was favored by 38%.
Garcia Richard had especially strong support among Hispanic voters. Byrd, meanwhile, had a two-point edge among male voters.
About the poll
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, statewide sample of 625 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. The sample also includes people who registered to vote since January 2021 who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election.
The poll was conducted from Oct. 20 through Oct. 27. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The margin of error grows for subsamples.
All interviews were conducted by live, professional interviewers, with multiple callbacks to households that did not initially answer the phone.
Both cellphone numbers (83%) and landlines (17%) of proven general election voters were used.