U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján maintained a double-digit lead in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat according to a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report.
The poll showed that Luján led Republican Mark Ronchetti 51 percent to 41 percent, with 3 percent saying they would vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh. Six percent said they were not sure.
The open U.S. Senate race came after Tom Udall said he would not seek a third term. Udall was initially elected in 2008 and easily won reelection in 2014. Democrats have held both U.S. Senate seats in New Mexico since Udall won in 2008, replacing Pete Domenici, a Republican who retired citing health reasons after a long stint in the Senate.
The lead by Luján shrunk by four points since a previous poll conducted for NM Political Report in June, when Luján led 48 percent to 34 percent. But Luján also now has over 50 percent in the three-way race.
The top two candidates had large leads among members of their own party, with Luján leading Ronchetti among Democrats 83 percent to 9 percent, with Walsh at 1 percent, while Ronchetti led among Republicans 86 percent to 8 percent, with Walsh at 2 percent. Luján held a narrow lead among independents, 42 percent to Ronchetti’s 40 percent and Walsh’s 8 percent.
Luján also had a large lead among Hispanic or Latino voters, 65 percent of whom said they would vote for the Democrat, compared to 28 percent who said they would vote for Ronchetti and 1 percent for Walsh. The poll showed Ronchetti with a sizable lead among white voters, 53 percent to Luján’s 39 percent and Walsh’s 4 percent. Native Americans backed Luján 58 percent to Ronchetti’s 19 percent and Walsh’s 2 percent, but the sample is very small and would have a very large margin of error.
Luján has a large lead among women, 57 percent to 34 percent, while Ronchetti leads among men, 50 percent to 42 percent.
NM Political Report will release approval ratings for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Donald Trump overall and on the handling of COVID-19, in addition to overall approval ratings for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich on Thursday.
Public Policy Polling conducted the poll on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 through automated calls to landlines and text messages to cell-phone only voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent for the full sample of 886 New Mexico voters, though the margin of error on subsamples is larger.