Home News Local News Poll shows close race between Torres Small, Herrell

Poll shows close race between Torres Small, Herrell


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

A recent poll shows the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District as a virtual tie.

The Albuquerque Journal poll conducted by the firm Research & Polling Inc. and published Monday in the Journal shows Torres Small leads Republican challenger Yvette Herrell 47% to 45% respectively. The rest of the respondents were undecided.

Steve Jones, the Ruidoso businessman who is making a bid for the seat as an independent, was not included.

Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., said in an interview with the Roswell Daily Record Monday that Torres Small’s two-point advantage is within the poll’s margin of error.

“What we are finding in this poll is that the race is really very close,” he said.

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The poll of 418 likely voters was conducted between Aug. 26 and Sept. 2.

Sanderoff notes Torres Small’s lead in the poll is about the same as her margin of victory in 2018.

A water rights attorney from Las Cruces, Torres Small prevailed over Yvette Herrell, a former state legislator from Alamogordo, by less than 2% in 2018 in the open race for the 2nd Congressional District, which is comprised of the lower half of the state.

As it was two years ago, the race is one of the elections for the U.S. House of Representatives being closely watched by political observers.

Demographic groups

The poll shows Herrell leading Torres Small among Anglos — white voters — 53% to 38%. Sanderoff said the remaining 9% are undecided. Torres Small has a 62% to 30% edge with Hispanics, with 8% undecided.

Some other traditional divides though were not evident in the poll, such as gender.

Sanderoff said Torres Small led Herrell 46% to 45% among men, with 9% undecided. She also led 48% to 44% among women. The remaining 8% were undecided.

And aside from respondents 18 to 34 years old — who favored Torres Small 55% to 31% with another 14% undecided — age was not a major indicator.

One of the biggest contrasts was between respondents in the eastern and western parts of the district.

Those from the staunchly conservative area east of the Sacramento Mountains, which includes the oil patch communities along the state’s border with Texas, favored Herrell over Torres Small 61% to 31%. The other 8% were undecided.

In the area west of the Mountains, such as the increasingly Democratic-leaning city of Las Cruces, respondents preferred Torres Small over Herrell 57% to 34%, with 9% undecided.

The winner of the race, Sanderoff said, will likely hinge partly on which candidate can best mobilize their core voters.

Both candidates, he said, seem to be successful in their efforts to do that.

Respondents who were registered Democrats largely lined up behind Torres Small, backing the first-term congresswoman over Herrell 85% to 10%, with 5% undecided; and among liberals, her advantage over Herrell was 79% to 12%, with 9% undecided.

Herrell, who has portrayed herself as a stalwart backer of President Donald Trump throughout the primary, strongly outpaces Torres Small among self-described Republicans 81% to 10%, with another 9% undecided; and conservatives 73% to 20%. Among conservatives, 7% were undecided.

“So they are pretty much both getting their respective political party’s vote,” Sanderoff said.


The fact that Trump’s name will be at the top of the ticket is something that could boost turnout among each campaign’s voters, Sanderoff said.

“A lot will depend on how people feel about Donald Trump,” Sanderoff said.

Trump lost New Mexico as a whole to Democrat Hillary Clinton by eight percentage points in 2016, though he carried the 2nd Congressional District by 10 points.

The Trump campaign has also poured ample resources into New Mexico in recent months in the hopes of turning out Republicans this November.

Sanderoff though said Trump’s presence on the ticket could also be a hindrance for Herrell, depending on his popularity.

The poll showed Trump losing the state to Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden 53% to 39%, and 8% undecided.

And in the 2nd Congressional District, the commanding lead Trump held in 2016 now stands at just four points, Sanderoff said.

“The more popular Donald Trump gets in the closing months, the more it will help Herrell,” he added.

Sanderoff added that if Trump’s popularity slides, that could work to the benefit of Torres Small.

The fight for moderates

Respondents who describe themselves as moderates favor Torres Small 68% to 25%, with another 7% undecided.

Sanderoff said that group is what the waning months of the election will be a fight for.

“They both now realize they’ve got their bases, now they have to go for that middle group, that handful of people so far, who do go back and forth between Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

Torres Small has long made bipartisanship a key part of her persona both in office and on the campaign trail. She has often stressed her record of working with Republicans on issues such as expanding rural access to health care, and in a recent ad, reiterated her opposition to a hydraulic fracking ban.

Herrell has also made overtures to that same group. In a recent ad, she said that “New Mexico is done with D.C. division” and vowed to work with anyone on legislation.

She also touted her endorsement from former U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, a conservative Democrat from Hobbs who represented the district from 2009 to 2011.

Sanderoff noted there are still a large number of voters up for grabs. The poll, he said, shows many voters not registered with either political party within the district have still not made up their mind on which candidate to support.

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

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