Democrats are ahead in two of New Mexico’s most important races, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll.
The poll’s results, released Sunday, showed 50 percent of likely voters would support Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and 43 percent for Republican Steve Pearce.
The two are looking to replace Susana Martinez, a Republican who is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term. Both Lujan Grisham and Pearce are U.S. representatives, leaving their positions for the statewide run.
Pollster Brian Sanderoff told the Albuquerque Journal that Pearce needs more support in the Albuquerque metro area, which holds a large percentage of the state’s population, if he wants to close the gap.
In the U.S. Senate race, the poll showed incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich with 47 percent of likely voters supporting him compared to 26 percent for Republican Mick Rich and 16 percent for former governor Libertarian Gary Johnson.
This is Heinrich’s first reelection campaign after being elected in a tough race in 2012. Libertarians have been hopeful that the former governor could pull an upset and become the first Libertarian in the U.S. Senate.
The poll showed Heinrich with a plurality of votes in every part of the state except the conservative eastern part of the state.
A poll by Emerson College in August showed a much closer race for governor and that Johnson was in second in the race for U.S. Senate.
The Albuquerque Journal polls, conducted by Research and Polling, Inc., are considered the gold standard of New Mexico polling because of the firm’s experience in the state and calling both cell phones and landlines. Some polls, which do not use live interviewers, cannot call cell phones.
The polls surveyed 966 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The poll surveyed 69 percent cell phone numbers and 31 percent landlines between Sept. 7 and 13.