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Poll: Herrell leads in House race, Heinrich ahead in Senate race

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New polls in the open U.S. House race in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District and in the state’s U.S. Senate race show Republican U.S. House candidate Yvette Herrell and incumbent Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich winning their respective races.

The poll conducted by Research and Polling Inc. of Albuquerque and conducted for the Albuquerque Journal, has Republican Yvette Herrell defeating Democrat Xochi Torres Small 48 to 41 percent.

Another 11 percent surveyed said they would not reveal or know who they would cast a ballot for this November.

The poll in the House race was taken of 405 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent, according to the Albuquerque Journal article announcing the poll results. The poll in the senate race was taken of 966 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. Both polls were scientific surveys taken of people who voted in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Herrell, a realtor and four-term state representative from Alamogordo; and Torres Small, a former field representative for Sen. Tom Udall and water attorney from Las Cruces, are vying to be the next U.S. Representative in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses southern New Mexico, including Roswell.

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Incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, opted not to seek re-election and is instead his party’s nominee for governor.

According to the article, Torres Small wins Democratic voters 84 to 7 percent and Hispanic voters 57 to 33 percent. Harrell leads among Republican voters 85 to 4 percent and Anglos 54 to 33 percent. She also holds a 55 to 24 edge among unaffiliated and voters who are registered with other parties.

The poll numbers come even though reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed Torres Small out-raised Harrell in the last fundraising quarter $400,761.87, to $120,315.06.

Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc. said Monday that although Torres-Small has been an impressive candidate, she faces tough terrain in a district that has long had a heavy conservative and Republican tilt.

“She’s not behind because she is a bad candidate — she seems to be a pretty good candidate, but it is still a conservative district,” he said.

The 2nd Congressional District is a district that is not monolithic.

“I think of the 2nd Congressional District has divided geographically and politically by the Sacramento Mountains,” Sanderoff said.

The region east of the mountains, which includes Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln and Roosevelt counties are staunchly Republican, while places in the western part of the district such as Las Cruces and Silver City, are much more hospitable to Democrats.

Despite having a smaller population in the east, Republicans usually take the district because they have impressive turnout among their voters that exceeds voter turnout rates in the west, Sanderoff said.

He added that places in the west such as Truth or Consequences are more conservative and are able to soften the Democratic edge in the west.

The Albuquerque Journal poll also shows Democrat Martin Heinrich far ahead in his bid for a second term. A separate article shows Heinrich with a large lead over his two opponents Republican Mick Rich and Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor and a Libertarian candidate.

Heinrich receives 47 percent in the poll with Rich and Johnson netting 26 and 16 percent of the vote respectively.

Sanderoff said that most registered Democrats and Republicans are sticking with their respective parties, despite Johnson’s time as governor and national profile as a 2012 and 2016 presidential candidate.

“That’s why Mick Rich is doing better than Gary Johnson,” Sanderoff said. “Mick Rich is a lot better known than Mick Rich but Mick Rich is doing better because he is the official Republican candidate.”

Johnson’s entry has served to split the Republican and conservative vote though, he added.

According to the poll, Johnson wins a plurality of unaffiliated and minor party voters. Johnson carries 37 percent of the group compared to 30 percent for Heinrich and 20 percent for Rich.

The poll shows Heinrich winning a majority of votes in the three-way contest in the Albuquerque metro area, the northwestern part of the state, north central New Mexico and the southwestern part of the state.

The strongly Republican east is the only region Heinrich does not carry. The poll shows Rich winning that region with 38 percent of the vote, with Heinrich and Johnson taking 30 percent and 16 percent of the vote respectively.

Sanderoff said the race would likely be more competitive if it was a two-candidate race between Heinrich and either Johnson or Rich.

He added that Heinrich benefits from having both candidates in the race.

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