June 9, 2016

Barely half of Los Alamos GOP voters backed Trump

Los Alamos National Labs, Wikicommons

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump won New Mexico with 70.7 percent of the Republican vote, but in Los Alamos County he barely cleared half the vote from registered Republicans according to unofficial numbers from the Secretary of State.

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore cc

University of New Mexico political science professor Dr. Lonna Atkeson told NM Political Report there are a number of possible reasons Los Alamos didn’t overwhelmingly vote for Trump as most other counties did—all pointing to demographics.

“There’s this thing about Trump being more working-class,” Atkeson said. “Los Alamos is sort of the opposite.”

According 2014 United States census data, 64 percent of residents in the county have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. A large number of residents work at Los Alamos National Labs and the county regularly ranks near the top of lists  of areas with the most post-doctorate degrees per capita. The median household income in 2014 within Los Alamos County was slightly more than $105,000.

Los Alamos County was once a red dot in the heavily-Democratic North-Central area of the state, but in recent years the area has been trending blue.

Los Alamos was also the only county in New Mexico where Ohio Gov. John Kasich took a clear second place to Trump. In all other New Mexico counties U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas came in second place in Tuesday’s primary election in New Mexico.

In Los Alamos County, Kasich received 20.8 percent percent of the vote, six points ahead of Cruz. Trump received 50.1 percent of the vote in the county.

Atkeson attributes the Los Alamos results partly to the ethnicities of both candidates and voters.

With 89 percent of the population identified as white, according to census data, combined with income and education demographics, Atkeson said voters in Los Alamos are “more likely to chose the Anglo but more moderate” candidate.

Atkeson said the numbers in Los Alamos could infer something about how Trump does in the general election on a national level.

“It suggests highly educated Republicans are probably less inclined to support to Trump,” Atkeson said.

Different trends?

Chairman of the Republican Party of Los Alamos Bill McKerley said the results may infer something about a national trend, just a different one.

“I think it reflects the issue across the country that people are still making their decision about Trump and his stand on particular issues,” McKerley said.

McKerley called Atkeson’s take “a theoretical evaluation” and said he thinks most of New Mexicans are frustrated by a lack of attention by an increasingly large government.

“The government is bloated and it’s not responsive to people out in the flyover states,” McKerley said.

Los Alamos County’s economy is largely tied to federal funding for Los Alamos National Labs.

High-profile New Mexico Republicans have avoided endorsing Trump.

Gov. Susana Martinez held off on endorsing anyone for president until she endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida just days before he dropped out of the race. Since then, Martinez has mostly avoided weighing in on Trump. The state Republican Party has continually said it would endorse whoever becomes the GOP nominee.

Trump received 70 percent of the Republican vote statewide, but ultimately about 30,000 Republican voters in New Mexico voted for one of the five candidates who all but dropped out of the race.

Atkeson said this snapshot of voters “Could be a problem for Trump.”

Update: Added the map to the post.