Despite all the hand-wringing in DC parlors over the Romney campaign, the number of states in play this November keeps expanding in his direction. We aren’t seeing solid Romney states suddenly becoming competitive. We are, however, seeing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, which had long been considered solid states for Obama, becoming competitive. Today, the latest PPP poll adds New Mexico to that list.
From the release:
PPP’s newest New Mexico poll finds the race for President there getting a lot more competitive. Barack Obama continues to lead but his advantage is down to 5 points at 49-44, a far cry from the leads of 14 and 15 points he had on our previous two polls of the state.
The big difference between now and April comes with Democrats. Previously Obama was winning them 85-12 but now that lead is down to 73-21. New Mexico is a state, like North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where any chance at victory for Romney is going to require winning over a significant number of conservative Democrats. Right now he’s doing a pretty decent job of that.
So, Obama has fallen 10 points in the state because of a collapse in support from Democrats. Now, PPP generally has a slight Democrat bias in its polls. This poll, however draws a sample that is 52% Democrat, 33% GOP and only 16% Independent. That is almost D+20 and yet Obama only leads Romney by 5 points.
Interestingly, Obama’s new immigration policy only gets the support of 41% of voters, while 46% of voters are opposed. (Demographically, the poll is 50% white, 40% hispanic and 10% “other”.) The immigration issue in New Mexico is actually more complicated than most people would assume. The overwhelming majority of hispanics in the state have been there for generations, many long before whites moved to the state. They tend to be fairly conservative on immigration and many other issues.
Obama should still be considered the favorite to win New Mexico, but struggles here shine a harsher light on the challenges he faces in toss-up states. If Obama is having troubled holding together his base in a state like New Mexico, it will be far more difficult in states that don’t have the strong Democrat tilt this state does.
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