Battleground States: New Mexico
by findingDulcinea Staff
With six-term Republican Sen. Pete Domenici’s recent retirement, and politicians competing for open senate and congressional seats, many have called New Mexico this year’s “ultimate swing state.” It is only one of several battleground states in which local races may influence the outcome of national contests.
New Mexico holds the highest Hispanic population in the country as well as a large proportion of independent voters. The state has elected Democratic candidates in three of the last four presidential elections. However, in 2004 voters elected Republican nominee George W. Bush over his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, making New Mexico one of only two states to shift from blue to red between 2000 and 2004.
Democratic Governor Bill Richardson ended his run to become the first Hispanic president in January after finishing behind Obama and Clinton in the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries. He publicly endorsed Obama in March following the senator’s speech on race in Philadelphia, and encourages voters to unite across racial and partisan lines to elect the Democratic frontrunner into the White House. As the only Hispanic governor in the history of New Mexico, Richardson could sway a large percentage of the Hispanic population to vote in favor of Sen. Obama.
Obama’s popularity will depend on whether Hispanic voters can relate to the African American candidate. As The Huffington Post points out, “Part of the reason the Democrats lost last time was some people had a hard time relating to Kerry.” John McCain comes from neighboring Arizona and may appeal to the Southwest state because of his military background. The latest Rasmussen Report, from July 25, shows Obama leading McCain in New Mexico 46 percent to 41 percent.