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Martin Heinrich
Martin Heinrich
Public Policy Polling (PDF). 12/10-12. New Mexico voters. MoE ±4.4% (6/23-26 in parentheses):
Martin Heinrich (D): 47 (47)
Heather Wilson (R): 40 (42)
Undecided: 13 (11)

Martin Heinrich (D): 48 (45)
John Sanchez (R): 37 (39)
Undecided: 15 (16)

Martin Heinrich (D): 43 (--)
Gary Johnson (R): 43 (--)
Undecided: 14 (--)

Hector Balderas (D): 43 (45)
Heather Wilson (R): 43 (39)
Undecided: 14 (16)

Hector Balderas (D): 41 (39)
John Sanchez (R): 34 (35)
Undecided: 24 (25)

Hector Balderas (D): 38 (--)
Gary Johnson (R): 44 (--)
Undecided: 19 (--)

Martin Heinrich (D): 47 (47)
Hector Balderas (D): 30 (24)
Undecided: 23 (29)

A few months ago I was able to turn the electability of the various candidates in Connecticut's Senate race into an easy-to-read equation, and, using Public Policy Polling's newest look at the open seat race in New Mexico, I think I can do the same thing here: (Democratic Rep.) Martin Heinrich = (Republican ex-Gov.) Gary Johnson > (Republican ex-Rep.) Heather Wilson = (Democratic state Auditor) Hector Balderas > (Republican Lt. Gov.) John Sanchez > miscellaneous teabaggers.

If your knee-jerk response is "OMG! We're going to lose to Gary Johnson!" then, well, don't worry about that. The libertarian-flavored ex-Governor has shown absolutely no interest in this race so far, and instead has been doggedly soldiering on in the presidential race, despite all the oxygen in his little market niche being sucked up by Ron Paul. Of course, he'll presumably need something new to do in a few months, which is probably why PPP included him... but his very recent comments have pointed to him, if anything, running as the Libertarian Party's standard-bearer in the presidential general instead of returning to the smaller pond of New Mexico.

Although Johnson has more appeal to indies than do the other Republicans, there's also no indication that Johnson would even make it out of a Senate primary, given the presence of the more conventionally conservative Heather Wilson there. PPP's primary poll gave her a 55-20-6-3 lead over Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and tea partiers Greg Sowards and Bill English. That turns into a 42-31 lead over Johnson, with Sanchez, Sowards, and English at 15, 3, and 1. PPP polled head-to-heads with Sowards too, despite his campaign "reboot" several months ago which sounded like a preemptive admission of defeat; he loses 49-31 to Heinrich and 44-30 to Balderas.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic front, Heinrich has a sizable lead over Balderas, although Balderas has consolidated more support among Hispanics, bringing it closer than before. Balderas now has a 41-35 advantage among Hispanics, instead of a 39-36 deficit in June. Heinrich leads 58-22 among whites, though, and Balderas will need to eat into that in order to get past him. I'd probably plan on a Heinrich/Wilson matchup, and given how well-known she is and how high Wilson's unfavorables are among the general electorate (37/46), I'm not sure where she'd pick up the votes that would take her over 50%.

For what it's worth, there's also been an unusual amount of Republican pushback on this particular poll, apparently as they're working overtime to keep the narrative on this race from crystallizing too early for them to fix later. In a nutshell, the GOP claims the sample (52 D, 29 R) is more Dem-friendly than actual registration numbers (49/32) and should actually look closer to 45-42 for Heinrich if re-weighted. (Which, come to think of it, is still not really a number they would want to be crowing about.) PPP's response is that the sample of independents is more Republican-leaning than 2008, presumably with more tea-flavored ex-Rs now identifying as indies but still planning to vote R. In case you don't want to wade through the whole ongoing Twitter-fight between Tom Jensen and Brian Walsh, Heath Haussamen has a nice summary.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 11:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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