Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish leads all five Republican gubernatorial candidates in a new poll released by Public Policy Polling -- although it appears Pete Domenici Jr is within striking distance.
Denish leads Domenici by five percentage points, 45-40, but holds much wider margins against the rest of the Republican field.
“Even in this hostile political climate, Diane Denish holds a lead against all of her potential opponents," Denish campaign Communications Director Chris Cervini said in a news release. "That’s because New Mexicans view her as an independent voice and a champion for middle-class families and their jobs."
But, considering the poll's 3.1 percent margin of error a possible Denish-Domenici race is essentially a dead heat. Of course that race isn't even finalized. While Denish is running unchallenged, Domenici still needs to collect a minimum of 20 percent of his party's pre-primary delegates and win the June 1st primary.
Denish polls 18 percentage points higher than Allen Weh, 48-30 percent, and by 14 percentage points over state Rep. Janice Arnold Jones, 47-33. She also holds a 14 percentage point lead over Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, 46-32 percent, and the a similar 14 percentage point leader over Albuquerque Public Relations agency owner Doug Turner, 46-32 percent.
“Diane has developed a unique relationship with the people of New Mexico, and as Governor she’ll bring about a new way of doing business to Santa Fe. New Mexicans are looking forward – not backward – and Diane has the new ideas that will get our economy moving and help families make ends meet,” Cervini said.
Denish’s advantage comes in spite of significantly reduced popularity for Governor Bill Richardson. Only 28 percent of voters in the state approve of the job he’s doing with 63 percent disapproving. His 22 percent approval with independents and 7 percent with Republicans is not unusual for a Democratic official these days, but he’s even in negative territory within hisown party at a 42/47 spread.
"Given Obama and Richardson’s low levels of popularity Diane Denish is doing pretty well,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But a contest with Domenici certainly looks like it could be competitive.”
Denish is easily the best known of the Gubernatorial candidates with 75 percent of voters holding an opinion about her. They break down positively by a 41/34 margin. A plurality of voters has no opinion about each of the Republicans. Domenici is viewed favorably by 27 percent, followed by 17 percent for Martinez, 12 percent for Weh and Turner, and 8 percent for Arnold-Jones.Although Barack Obama’s approval has slipped into negative territory at 45/48, both of the state’s Democratic Senators have solid 48/36 approval spreads.
PPP, a Democratic polling firm, surveyed 990 New Mexico voters from February 18th to 20th. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.1 percent. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.