Poll gives Denish a 20-point lead over Chávez

Posted 9/10/2007 09:42:00 AM

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has a huge lead in the race to be the Democratic Party’s 2010 gubernatorial nominee, according to a poll released today by the Albuquerque Journal.

Yes, the primary election is almost three years away, and a lot could and will likely change before then, but the poll is still bad news for Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, as is places him 20 points behind Denish. Fifty percent of Democrats surveyed picked Denish to be the nominee, while 30 percent picked Chávez and 20 percent were undecided.

Chávez told the Journal the numbers are “remarkable” because “she’s been campaigning full time for almost a year and I’m not even a candidate.”

Denish has already declared her candidacy. She said in Las Cruces recently that she has raised $1.5 million. But, though he hasn’t declared himself a candidate, Chávez has set up an exploratory committee and has also been raising money. Both have been traveling the state, and have found reasons to make several trips each to Las Cruces in recent months.

Still, Denish has been more active and raised more money, even though it’s not really accurate to say she has been campaigning full time. Were Chávez to become more active in the race, he would likely gain some ground, but 20 points is a large deficit.

The unknowns

There’s a simple explanation for Denish’s popularity. She’s the No. 2 to a governor who was re-elected last year with 69 percent of the vote. New Mexicans, and Democrats especially, are happy with the state of affairs in New Mexico, and probably view a Denish administration as a continuation of that.

Denish is also getting a chance to prove herself right now, since she’s acting governor almost all the time while Bill Richardson campaigns for president.

A number of factors, however, could completely change this race.

Denish might become governor before 2010 if Richardson leaves to Washington, giving her an even greater edge – or an opportunity to screw up before the election. Even if she doesn’t become governor before 2010, she’s going to be running the show for much of next year’s legislative session, giving voters a chance to see her in action.

Chávez might decide against getting in the race, in the end, though most politicos believe he’s in it for the long haul. Chávez also has to decide in the coming months whether to seek another term as mayor in 2009, only to leave the office early into a new term if he’s elected governor.

Other candidates will likely jump in the race. A Hispanic candidate could make Chávez’s road more difficult. An Anglo candidate could take some of Denish’s support. A rural candidate might snag support outside the city’s population center while Denish and Chávez battle for Albuquerque/Santa Fe votes.

More poll numbers and analysis

But a rural candidate might have a hard time, the poll reveals, as Denish’s strongest support comes from the state’s east side.

Denish has support of 60 percent of Anglos and 40 percent of Hispanics, while Chávez has the support of 41 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of Anglos. Denish even bested Chávez in Albuquerque, where she had 54 percent of support and he had 29 percent.

Brian Sanderoff, whose company Research & Polling Inc. conducted the survey, said Chávez has to win Albuquerque, but may be hampered by a number of recent controversies there. Chávez told the Journal he has “one of those jobs where you actually have to do things,” while “the lieutenant governor has a job that I think she would even concede doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting. Mayors make real decisions and if a mayor is doing his or her job, somebody is probably getting offended.”

Denish told the newspaper she’s “been working to bring people together who disagree on issues. And I think the issues I have been working on – education, health care, job creation – appeal to people across the board.”

Denish’s campaign immediately sought to capitalize on the new poll, sending an e-mail to supporters stating that “The race is still a long way away, and we know that we cannot take anything for granted, which is why Diane is working hard every day to make life better for all New Mexicans. … We know that polls go up and polls go down and Diane certainly will not rest just because of strong poll numbers, which is why we continue to need your help.”

The survey of 407 registered Democrats who frequently vote was conducted Tuesday-Thursday and has a margin of error of 5 percent.

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At 10:38 AM, September 10, 2007, Anonymous babyfatt said...

Denish would make a great governor. I'm sick of Marty's high-handed, imperialistic management style. He has no respect for core Dem values (for example, wants to privatize city services and gives short shrift to essential services like the bus system), loves to trample civil liberties when it suits him, and is in the pocket of rich developers. Hard to see him generating much enthusiasm for Dems statewide.

At 7:55 PM, September 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayor Marty has done some very good things as mayor of Albuquerque, but it seems that he is becoming increasing embroiled in petty squabbles with the majority of the city council. The perception is growing that he doesn't work well with others and this will be a big problem for him if he seeks a statewide office. Autocrats are not attractive at that level.

At 8:39 AM, September 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Republican but I vote for the person not by the party. I would NEVER vote for Diane Denish, the woman has NO people skills! Mayor Chavez has done quite a few things in Albuquerque, I have to give him credit for that BUT he doesnt plan for the future, he is a spender with no thought behind where the money will come from for the spending!
Im unimpressed so far by the gubernatorial candidates.


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