-Most of the Republicans elected Governor in Obama states last November have quickly become very unpopular. Not so in the case of New Mexico's Susana Martinez. 52% of voters approve of the job she's doing to 37% who disapprove. Beyond that she would win a hypothetical rematch with opponent Diane Denish by a 53-44 margin, actually a little bit better than the 7 point spread she won by last fall.
There are a couple things particularly striking in Martinez's numbers. One is her standing with Democrats- 32% approve of her to 56% who disapprove. There aren't a lot of GOP Governors in blue states who have a third of their Democratic constituents behind him. The other is how she fares with Hispanics- 49% approve to 41% disapproving. New Mexico's Latino voters went even more Democratic in 2008 than that voter bloc did nationally so being on positive ground with them is a pretty good feat.
A female Hispanic Governor who's maintaining her popularity as she governs a blue state? Martinez would be at the top of my VP list for next year if I was a Republican strategist.
-Our polling consistently finds New Mexico to have one of the most popular Senate delegations in the country and this go around is no exception. 58% of voters approve of Jeff Bingaman's job performance compared to 29% who disapprove. That puts him 7th in popularity out of 85 Senators we've polled on in the last year and change. Democrats love him and he also has the approval of a third of Republicans, as well as a greater than 2:1 approval spread with independents.
Tom Udall can't quite stack up to Bingaman's popularity but his 48/31 approval spread still puts him in about the 70th percentile of all Senators who we've polled on. He has similar numbers to Bingaman with Democrats but only about a fifth of Republicans gives him good marks and he's also a little weaker with independents.
-Congressman Steve Pearce has a 40/40 favorability rating statewide. That doesn't seem too bad given how badly he got trounced in his 2008 Senate campaign- suggests there's been a bit of a recovery in his numbers over the last two and a half years. Ben Ray Lujan's statewide spread is 30/34, making him the least popular member of the state's House delegation. Martin Heinrich earns tops honors on that front- last week we showed him at a positive 36/32.
-Voters in the state are narrowly opposed to gay marriage but strongly support granting at least some form of legal recognition to same sex couples. 42% think gay marriage should be legal to 48% opposed. Respondents under 65 narrowly support it but are outweighed by 58/30 opposition among senior citizens. Only 30% of voters oppose any legal recognition for gay couples though with 37% supporting full marriage rights and another 31% favoring civil unions. Even among Republicans there's 54/44 support for gay marriage/civil unions as opposed to no recognition.
-When it comes to former Governor Bill Richardson absence clearly does not make the heart grow fonder. Just 27% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 63% with a negative one. Most striking is that even Democrats- by a 47/41 margin- say they view the former Governor in a negative light. His numbers with independents (25/67) and Republicans (5/87) are about as bad as they could possibly be. There are few politicians in the country who've managed to become as unpopular as Richardson without a major scandal.
Full results here