This election made on thing clear. New Mexico is consistently shifting towards the blue end of the spectrum. This may be a surprise to some since the state’s Governor is a Republican and has a 69 percent approval rating among New Mexicans but the results of this election showed the state morphing from moderately conservative to moderately liberal. Analysts attribute this power shift to the increase in population in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe resulting from people leaving rural areas. Another reason for the shift is due to the robust Hispanic population. According to the Albuqerque Journal eight out of every ten new residents since 2000 consider themselves Hispanics. This demographic group identifies with democrats almost 70 percent of the time. Thus it is no surprise that Democrats reigned supreme in the Land of Enchantment. Let’s take a look at the races we’ve watched since the beginning of the election.
Let’s start with how the President fared. The President had a ten point lead over Romney for basically the entire campaign. He swept 18 out of New Mexico’s 33 counties mainly only taking losses in the Southeastern Counties. These counties are in the heart of New Mexico’s conservative territory because of the oil fields. Even though Obama did not have the support of the Southeastern part of the state he had a strong base in the three largest cities: Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. President Obama won Bernalillo County by 42,700 votes and Santa Fe County by 34,700 votes.
In the states races, Democrat Martin Heinrich kept his lead against Heather Wilson and won Senator Bingaman’s Senate seat. He won 13 counties and propelled to victory with wide margins in the three major cities. Michele Lujan Grisham swept Republican Janice Arnold-Jones with an 18-point victory in a seat that has been filled by a Republican since 1969. Both of these wins signify the growing democratic support in the state.
Although democratic support is growing, New Mexico still has a very large segment of independent voters. It will be interesting to see what will happen if the GOP starts to reach out to Hispanics. Will they stay loyal to the democratic party that they have supported for the past eight years or will the shift gears and pass through the shade of blue into the a shade of purple.