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
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.