New Mexico could be a sleeper battleground state in the 2012 election, as a new Albuquerque Journal poll shows President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by only 5 points in a state he won by a double-digit margin in 2008. The poll finds two especially disconcerting signs for the president. First, he’s having trouble uniting Democrats around his candidacy for a second term. And second, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, actually appears to be playing more of a spoiler role for Democrats than for Johnson’s former Republican Party.
According to the poll, Obama only garners 71 per cent support from New Mexico Democrats in the Journal poll, while Romney steals 15 per cent of their votes. That has been a recurring problem for the president in New Mexico polling — a Public Policy Polling survey in July found Romney grabbing 21 per cent of the Democratic vote.
The Albuquerque Journal poll was taken during the Democratic National Convention last week, so it’s possible that Obama has ramped up some more support in New Mexico, going along with his big overall convention bounce. But even if he has gained additional Democratic votes, the 71 per cent is a far cry from the 91 per cent of New Mexico Democrats who voted for him in 2008.
About 48 per cent of New Mexico residents are registered Democrats — compared with only 32 per cent who are Republicans — so Romney taking away some of those voters is essential to his possible upset there.
Meanwhile, the Journal poll shows that Johnson could play spoiler for Obama. Johnson gets 12 per cent of the Independent vote in the state, leaving Romney with a 38-35 lead over Obama among the key group. In 2008, Obama won 56 per cent of the Independent vote, compared with just 41 per cent for Republican John McCain. Right now, Johnson grabs about an equal percentage of votes from Republicans (7 per cent) and Democrats (6 per cent).
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