More people voted in 2016 than in 2012, but turnout fell when compared to the amount of registered voters. And both total votes and turnout fell far behind the numbers of 2008. Because of this and other factors, Hillary Clinton won New Mexico by a smaller margin than Barack Obama did in either 2008 or 2012, and even lost some counties that Obama won four years ago. In fact, Clinton received a lower share of the vote in every county in the state except for Los Alamos County. Vote totals will not be finalized until canvasses are complete, so all numbers in this post from 2016 could change slightly.
One bright spot New Mexico Republicans point to in state elections is the defeat of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. The Belen Democrat lost after Advance New Mexico Now, a Super PAC with close ties to Gov. Susana Martinez, and other organizations targeted him for what they saw as obstruction of important issues. In recent days, Sanchez has told media outlets this nearly single-minded focus on his state Senate district may have tipped the balance and allowed Democrats to take back the state House of Representatives while expanding their state Senate majority. “I’m really grateful for her aiming at me,” Sanchez told the Albuquerque Journal. “They focused their attention on me, and they didn’t pay attention to what they needed to pay attention to.”
He said something similar to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Gov. Susana Martinez took out her major target in Tuesday’s election, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. But that single victory came at a cost. Republicans lost the state House after two years in control, while Democrats strengthened their margin in the state Senate. The Democrats will control the House by at least a 37-33 margin, with an outside shot at a 39-31 split. Two races are going to recounts.
After over a year of criticism of Donald Trump over his remarks on a number of issues, including Mexican immigrants, Gov. Susana Martinez said she believes he was a better choice than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. That’s the word from a written statement from Martinez to media outlets. NM Political Report did not receive the statement from Martinez. “I may have taken issue with some of the rhetoric on the campaign trail, but I believe that President-elect Trump was a better choice than Hillary Clinton, and I congratulate him on his hard-fought victory,” Martinez said. Trump himself went after Martinez in a May campaign appearance in Albuquerque.
While it’s clear after election night that Democrats took back control of the state House of Representatives from Republicans and expanded their lead in the state Senate, to what extent won’t be known until recounts take place. The preliminary unofficial results show three races, two for House seats and one for a Senate seat, within 1 percent, which means there will be automatic recounts. These recounts are paid for by the state. If a candidate who lost by more than 1 percent wants a recount, that candidate would need to pay for it themselves. Joey Keefe, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office, told NM Political Report that the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday to convene the canvassing period, where official vote-tallying will take place.
A night that ended with one of the most stunning upsets in modern presidential history began, in Albuquerque and likely in many other cities throughout the country, with Democrats feeling optimistic about the country on the cusp of electing its first female president. At the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque, an enthusiastic crowd of state Democrats gathered to watch the election results and, they thought, to welcome Hillary Clinton to the White House. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who easily won reelection to represent the Albuquerque area, showed up wearing a white pantsuit. She also wore a button bearing Clinton’s face on her chest. She called her outfit “my white suffrage Hillary Clinton pantsuit.”
While both New Mexico Democrats and Republicans were carefully watching national election numbers roll in on Tuesday night hoping for a win for their candidate, Gary Johnson supporters in Albuquerque were cheering for the win of getting the support of three percent of voters nationwide and nine percent in New Mexico. A few hours before Donald Trump gave an acceptance speech, the Libertarian Party nominee and his supporters were near Old Town in Albuquerque, celebrating what was ultimately a presidential loss. But they didn’t see the showing as a loss, instead seeing the best showing for a Libertarian candidate ever. Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark kept on eye on the numbers throughout the night, but seemed more concerned with his party’s numbers and less concerned with the numbers of the two candidates who finished well ahead of Johnson. Sarwark and his party also seem focused on the long game—eventually getting even footing with the two major parties—during this election cycle.
In a disastrous night for Democrats nationwide that saw Republican Donald Trump win the presidency, the state party actually did well, retaking the House of Representatives and expanding the party’s majority in the state Senate. The scope of the advantage in both chambers isn’t yet known, as there could be up to four automatic recounts, two in each chamber. Democrats also won back the Secretary of State seat when Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver easily defeated Republican Nora Espinoza. “What a difference two years makes,” Toulouse Oliver told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, referring to her 2014 loss to Republican Dianna Duran. Duran resigned last year hours before pleading guilty to counts of misusing campaign funds, for which she spent 30 days in jail.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez will not be returning to the state Senate for another term. The Democrat from Belen fell to Republican Greg Baca in a race that saw Republicans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat him, largely on television ads that went after Sanchez for blocking crime legislation. At the state Republican Party watch party in the Albuquerque Convention Center, Baca said “we just want to work toward a better state here.”
“Let’s start talking about things like safer streets, better education, more jobs, more opportunities for everyone,” Baca said. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez stood beside Baca congratulating him. “Sixteen years ago I did the same thing,” John Sanchez, a Republican, said.
While the race remains too close to call in many key battleground states, national media outlets are starting to project Hillary Clinton will win in New Mexico. With over 435,000 votes already counted, Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump 52 percent to 38 percent. Libertarian and former New Mexico Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has the support of 8 percent of votes counted already. While one pull put the race in New Mexico as close as 2 percent, even the polls with larger margins for Clinton may have underestimated. This wasn’t the only good race for New Mexico Democrats.