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Race for governor tightening, Johnson shakes up U.S. Senate race, new poll says

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With 78 days remaining until Election Day, the race for New Mexico governor is tight and the entry of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has affected the New Mexico U.S. Senate race, according to a new poll.

The poll of 500 registered voters conducted Aug. 17 and 18 by Emerson College shows Democrat Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham clinging to a two-point lead against Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in the race for New Mexico Governor, well within the polls’ margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percent, according to the poll.

Lujan Grisham leads Pearce 42 to 40 percent, according to the poll.

Eighteen percent say they are undecided how they will vote in the race.

Lujan Grisham of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District and Pearce who represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Roswell, are both competing to succeed two-term Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican. Martinez is unable to seek re-election because of term limits.

Pearce and Lujan Grisham have relatively similar levels of popularity, according to the poll results.

The poll states 45 percent have a favorable view of Lujan Grisham and 29 percent an unfavorable view.

Pearce is viewed favorably by 41 percent of voters, unfavorably by 31 percent, according to the poll.

The poll when divided by congressional district shows Lujan Grisham leads the 1st Congressional district, which she represents, 48 to 32 percent . Pearce carries the 2nd District — which also includes his hometown of Hobbs — 43 to 35 percent.

Pearce also has a lead in the 3rd Congressional District of 46 to 42 percent.

The poll also looked at New Mexico’s U.S. Senate race.

The race received renewed attention last week when Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor and 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, announced he would enter the race.

Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich leads the field with 39 percent to Johnson’s 21 percent. Republican candidate and businessman Mick Rich trails with 11 percent, according to the poll.

The polls states that Johnson takes 27 percent of the vote from Republicans, 13 from Democrats and 25 percent from self-described independents.

Heinrich leads in all three congressional districts by varying margins, the poll says. He wins the 1st Congressional District with 43.2 percent, compared to 23.6 percent for Johnson and 8.8 percent for Rich.

Rich has his best showing in the 2nd Congressional District with 14 percent but falls behind Heinrich’s 34.6 percent and Johnson’s 15.6 percent. Heinrich also carries the 3rd  Congressional District 39 percent to 22.5 percent for Johnson and 8.7 percent for Rich.

Other findings in the poll:

• Outgoing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has an approval rating of 30 percent, to 47 percent who disapprove

• President Donald Trump has a 35 percent approval rating, compared to 54 percent who disapprove

• Heinrich has an approval rating of 39 percent, while 25 percent disapprove

• A majority of New Mexicans — 54 percent — are are against significantly expanding construction of walls along the southern border, while another 38 percent favor such an expansion

• In the 2nd Congressional District 38.7 percent would vote for the Republican candidate, 35 percent for the Democrat, 5 percent for someone else and 21.3 percent are undecided

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.