Cool, alright sorry I was late to this party, but I was out all Halloween and didn't see the Kos post on New Mexico until right now. I'm a long time lurker on this site (which is wonderful by the way) but this is the first area I've felt confident enough to post in with a great degree of certainty.
First off, if you've never lived in New Mexico or don't know a significant part of it's history don't even try and guess it's dynamics from a few loose polls and bureau statistics. No offense, it's just impossible since this is one of the most diverse and complex states of the union. I've lived in New Mexico my entire life, growing up in the liberal north central Taos and now attending the University of New Mexico in much more moderate Albuquerque as a political science major. My dad is a history major, specializing on New Mexico history, and still teaches at the University of New Mexico Taos branch. I grew up learning about this place.
Sanderoff gave a presentation in my honors class several weeks back, and he laid out how he polls. He rightly breaks the state into five categories. The north-central part of the state is made up mostly of native Hispanics, who have been there for generations, and liberal whites so that's solid dem territory. The eastern half of the state, a desert hellhole by the way, is called little Texas for a reason. The north-central and eastern half of the state are the same population size, and will cross each other out as always. The southwest and northwest parts of the state are more complex. They have strong Democratic Native Americans who essential make these two regions a draw with the conservative whites. These are the two least populated regions of the state so they matter little anyway. Then we have the most important area, Albuquerque metro, where the race will be decided. 1/3 of the states population lives here, and it is not only a microcosm of the state, but of the nation as a whole. If you follow voting patterns (not registration) it remains an immensely competitive area for both Congress and the President's race.
So if this race comes down to Albuquerque, let's examine the city then. First let's see who's being underpolled. Even on Sanderoff's poll the main miss here is the universal miss: new voters. Particularly young ones. I early voted this year, as most of my friends, all first time voters, and the lines are already enormous. No mistake, people are getting out to vote. Pollers aren't reaching a lot of these new voters, particuarlly younger ones. I live off a cell phone, as do most college students here, and not a single person of the dozens I've asked have ever been polled over the cell phone. All voted, and trust me there lot's more of that.
Then there's the ground game in Albuquerque. City wide, overall, theres no doubt of the majority of Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers and yard signs. It's not even close, even counting the heavily Republican areas, such as the northeast heights. The Kerry office for the city ALWAYS has something going on, and the last week I've driven past there there's literally been swarms of volunteers holding signs or piling into the building.
Last, there's a few small variables. One is the largely underpolled Native American vote, which will be overwhelming for Kerry in this election. Another, which I discovered when canvassing, is the large number of people who normally vote conservative, but this year are splitting their ticket for Kerry/Heather Wilson. There's lots of other quirks I could bore you with, such as the general mood of the city, but I can sat with a great deal of certainty when Kerry wins this year New Mexico will be closely contested but blue true and true.
edit: and revisement.
First to answer some of the questions posed on the comment threads, I could go into long boring detail of the history of this state to explain it's diversity. Look at northern New Mexico hispanics. The great majority are not newcomers. They've been settled along down the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico starting around the mid 1500's (which by the way is much longer then anyone was chilling on our eastern coast). They we're isolated from both US influences and Mexican rule for several hundred years, giving them their very unique little culture. They are overwhelmingly Democrats, even though most are socially conserative. They, like any intellegent indivduals, vote their brains and pocketbooks however, not by their Catholic faith, which is what makes them so Democratic, like they've been since FDR's New Deal, and like they will continue to be.
Eastern Ranchers, the very complex Four Corners regions, and modern immigrants (from both Mexico and more Angelo parts of the US such as Texas) make alot of history I could cover here.
Suffice to say national polling has no idea how to capture these quirks. Hispanics and Native Americans are always underpolled, and the diverse Angelo culture here make them hard to track as well. Throw in the strong military instituions in the state, along with our known independent streak (and general disstaste for Texans who tried to invade this state three seperate time, failing each turn) and you see why it's near impossible to track from the outside. Lastly, it was metioned of the HUGE GOTV effort here, which will make a diffrence as well. It really has been enormous, as even I'm sick of them asking me at least three times a day to go vote. And they are going to vote. To be told their not is a Republican stadegy several of my Repub friend's have already tried to convince me of. It's simply not true. People are not only being pestered, they know they live in a swing state, and a huge number truly do care.