Kimberley Strassel gets carried away:
As for the presidential race, Republicans are in sight of taking back Virginia and North Carolina and are competitive in supposedly new Democratic strongholds like Colorado and New Mexico [bold mine-DL]. The GOP is also making unexpected inroads in Wisconsin and Iowa. The real story of the Obama presidency is the degree to which he has pushed his party back toward its coastal and urban strongholds.
Some of what Strassel says here is correct, but more of it doesn’t appear to be. North Carolina is leaning towards the Republican camp in the presidential race, Iowa is much more competitive than it has been recently, and Wisconsin is considered a toss-up state partly because of Ryan’s addition to the ticket. Romney is not faring as well in Colorado and New Mexico, and particularly in New Mexico he is trailing badly. Colorado may not qualify as a solidly Democratic state, but at this point New Mexico does. Romney isn’t competitive there, and apparently neither is Republican Senate nominee Heather Wilson. The NRSC has already pulled its ad funding for New Mexico.
It isn’t certain how much of an effect Gary Johnson’s candidacy will have on the presidential race in our home state, but it seems that it won’t be helping Romney. Johnson’s name isn’t included in the survey, but according to this Rasmussen poll 9% of New Mexicans favor “some other candidate.” Romney receives just 38%, and barely comes in second among New Mexicans not affiliated with the major parties, many of whom favor the “other” option.
Romney’s unfavorability in New Mexico is 56%, and Obama’s approval is 54%. Among New Mexicans not affiliated with the major parties, Romney’s unfavorability is 63%. Except for those inside the Republican fold, Romney is deeply disliked in New Mexico, and there aren’t that many Republicans in New Mexico. (Rasmussen’s sample has Republicans as 31% of likely voters). Senate nominee Heather Wilson suffers from a similar problem. Her unfavorability among those whose political affiliation is “other” is 49%, which explains why only one-third of these voters prefers her to Heinrich.
New Mexico has long been a heavily Democratic state in local and state elections. Democrats have dominated the state legislature uninterruptedly since the Depression, and the governorship is the only state-level office that Republicans have consistently been able to win in modern times. More recently, New Mexicans have started voting the same way in federal elections. New Mexico was a “swing state” for a long time, and the state closely followed the popular vote in almost every election. In 2008, it gave Obama significantly more support than he received nationally. Until 2008, Republicans had never lost control of the 1st District (which includes Albuquerque) since the district’s creation over forty years ago, but since 2008 they have been unable to reclaim it. As all of this shows, New Mexico is an unusual state in the Mountain West, but it is definitely one that has moved into the Democratic column. The point is that Republicans have gone from being reasonably competitive in federal elections in New Mexico to probably becoming the permanent minority that they have been at the state level for decades. That isn’t going to change this year, and Romney isn’t the one to change it.