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Domenici leads in new poll, but many are undecided

Pete Domenici Jr.

A new poll conducted by students in a government class at New Mexico State University shows Pete Domenici Jr. with a large lead in the Republican gubernatorial primary, but an even larger number of people undecided.

Domenici is leading in both name recognition and preference among Republicans who voted in one or both of the last two primaries, according to the poll conducted by 28 students enrolled in a political research skills course taught by Jose Z. Garcia.

When asked if they knew any of the Republican candidates for governor, 36.3 percent of those surveyed recognized Domenici, while 21.6 percent recognized Allen Weh, 18.2 percent recognized Susana Martinez, 16.7 percent recognized Doug Turner and 7.9 percent recognized Janice Arnold-Jones. Some 46 percent were unable to identify any of the candidates.

Then, asked if there was “a candidate you intend to vote for, or that you are leaning toward,” 29.3 percent picked Domenici, while 11.5 percent picked Martinez, 7.4 percent picked Weh, 6.8 percent picked Turner and 2.5 percent picked Arnold-Jones. Some 42.6 percent said they weren’t sure.

The survey of 444 Republicans who voted in one or both of the last two Republican primaries was conducted from Feb. 9-13 and has a margin of error of 5 percentage points. The list of phone numbers called was provided by Research and Polling – the company that polls for the Albuquerque Journal – and the poll reached every county in the state, according to the poll memo.

It’s the first publicly released poll of the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Garcia predicts a Domenici/Martinez showdown

Susana Martinez

Susana Martinez

In his analysis of the results, Garcia considered whether Domenici’s lead was primarily due to high name recognition because of his father, former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici. Garcia looked at respondents who recognized both the names of Domenici and his closest opponent on the preference question – Martinez – and found that 40 percent preferred Martinez, while 25 percent preferred Domenici, 12 percent preferred another candidate and 12 percent were undecided.

That, coupled with other factors, led Garcia to predict that the race could come down to Domenici and Martinez.

“Again, the low sample size does not permit definitive conclusions, but this reduction, when combined with the relatively low performance of Weh in the preference question despite his relatively high name recognition (higher than Martinez’s) and the relatively low performance of Turner and Arnold, suggests – other things being equal – this is likely to become a two-person race in the next few weeks between Domenici and Martinez,” the poll memo states.

However, Garcia said in an interview that the high number of undecideds means there is still “a great deal of room for anyone of the candidates to surge ahead.” Still, he has predicted all along that Martinez would be a significant factor in this race.

A couple of things are worth noting: The poll memo isn’t clear about where the 52 respondents who recognized both Domenici and Martinez are from, but Martinez has her own base in Doña Ana County, where she is the district attorney.

In addition, it’s worth noting that Domenici led among all gender and ethnic groups, including Hispanics – of whom 37 percent said they support or are leaning toward Domenici compared to Martinez’s 18 percent.

Peter St. Cyr contributed to this report.

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9 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.

  1. With 42% undecided in this poll, it’s hard for anyone to take this seriously, and since this is a General Election poll, we need to be very wary this far in advance.

    But if one did, it would be readily apparent that Dominici, Jr., with only one month into his campaign, is running purely on his father’s name recognition.

    That’s not enough to win the nomination, especially considering his terrible performance during his announcement speech, his absolute failure to attract delegates during the pre-primary conventions, and his admission of drug use, which may or may not cause long-term damage, but isn’t a bonus.

    Susana is purely a regional candidate and has no support outside of Dona Ana County and pockets elsewhere. That’s not a winning campaign.

    But if we pretend to take this poll seriously, and discount the name confusion with Domenici, then Martinez and Arnold-Jones both are only 14 points down, and Weh is 18 points down. This is a wide-open race.

  2. Ramirez is right…and this was brought up by a caller from northern NM during her interview on Villanucci’s show…Susana needs to make more swings through the Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel, and Mora areas and not just to meet with the GOP faithful(the few that there are) but with disaffected dems as well. The anti-Richardson sentiment is real and palpable and she should seize any opportunity to make inroads with these voters. I know the primary’s still months away and that’s their main focus. However, she should already start casting as wide a net as possible to voters of all political persuasions.

  3. Astute Observer has some great points. The Republican candidate needs to be ready on day one to take on the Denish- Dem machine. She is well funded, and isn’t afraid to spend.

    Susana has the moxie to run a strong campaign, and stand out as a true “outsider” that can give us the results we crave and need in Santa Fe. The fact that she’s from Las Cruces helps her in this position greatly; yet hurts her outside her jurisdiction.

    She needs to spend more time in Northern New Mexico, because I know that many Democrats and independents would like what she has to offer.

  4. Some good points here …. I hate to use his name on Heath’s site, but Monahan this morning use the ‘… all hat and no cattle …’ to describe Domenici. I have a less charitible description. He has name – and that is it. He has improved a bit since his announcement, but not much – still sounds like Kermit, stumbles around the issues and plays heavily on daddy’s name. We deserve better. Roosevelts take is good – there are three candidates who will make it out of the convention – Arnold-Jones, Martinez and Wey. Wey likes to use the ‘mile wide and one-inch deep’ descriptor – perhaps because he knows it so well. While the skill sets to run a business and to become a reserve Marine colonel are good assets, they aren’t enough to be governor of NM and we do not need yet another self-serving bully in the round house. The race belongs to the women. that said – there is only one of them with the deepth and breadth of experience, who has battled in government wars for years, espoused solutions and not just rhetoric on a broad variety of issues, with successes to her name, who can can immediately head up the fire brigade to battle the NM structural fire beginning at one minute after midnight on January 1st 2011. We all need to decide just who that woman is … it is obvious to me.

  5. For Domenici to only be at 29% against relatively unknown candidates — before the cocaine story — is a pretty weak showing.

    I agree with the analysis of RooseveltRepublican across the board.

    Domenici must do well at the state’s pre-primary convention in order to be viable. His dad has been making a lot of personal calls to delegates and even showed up at the Bernalillo County convention to campaign on his behalf. There is no way for him to credibly spin a loss at the convention as being anything other than a complete rejection by those who know him best.

  6. An interesting strategy for Republicans would have Mr. Domenici run for Lt. Governor, and he would throw his support to someone like the experienced Heather Wilson. Mr. Domenici if nominated for governor would be a disaster for GOP and an easy win for Democrats———- No Massachusetts in New Mexico.

  7. What this story doesn’t take into account is the Pre-Primary conventions. You have to get through that before you start looking at “Jose 6-pack”. Based on those performances of the statewide competitive primaries, here at the way things are shaking out.

    In the Governor’s race: Susana Martinez, Janice Arnold-Jones and Allen Weh are performing the best. Turner seems to be a lot of people’s second choice, but very few people’s first choice. Domenici got in too late to get things organized and his only hope is to thwart history and run regardless of performance at the convention. We’ve never had a candidate not get the 20%, file extra petitions and win the primary. Domenici may have the name ID to accomplish this, but we’ll have to see how the media plays him getting trounced at the state convention. Domenici’s campaign looks a lot like Rudy Giualiani’s 2008 Presidential campaign. All sizzle, no steak.

    In the other competitive races, which haven’t been written about much here.

    The Lt. Governor race is coming along like this: Kent Cravens, Brian Moore, and a surging John Sanchez. John Sanchez is making progress, but may not have enough time to overcome Moore or Cravens. Cravens is leading going into the state convention, but Moore is strong too. It depends what the surging Sanchez does in rural NM.

    In the Commissioner of Public Lands race, Bob Cornelius is still the man to beat. Matthew Rush is doing well, but James Jackson is hurting Rush in parts of rural NM. While Cornelius is strongest in Congressional District 1, Rush and Jackson playing well in in CD 2, and are splitting delegations with Cornelius. Spiro V. is not making much of an impression because he got in late and is the most liberal of the four. That doesn’t play anywhere in a NM GOP Primary.

  8. Domenici —————– All name – no substance!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. This is scary if people are seriously thinking that Domenici can beat Denish. Here we have another example of what happened in the Senate race two years go; sheer arrogance beating common sense.

    I will work hard to help Susana win.

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