Polls show good news for New Mexico Democrats

Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.) holds a slim lead over former Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), according to a new poll.

Teague, a first term lawmaker who won the seat when Pearce ran for the Senate, leads the former lawmaker 45 percent to 42 percent, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll. In 2008, Pearce lost a Senate race and is running for his old House seat this cycle.

The poll found 13 percent of voters remain undecided in a district that leans Republican. Among self-described independent voters, Teague has 37 percent to Pearce's 33 percent. Teague is the first Democrat to hold the seat in 28 years.

The poll was conducted Aug. 23-27 by Research and Polling Inc. of Albuquerque and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percent.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff told the paper that Teague's slight edge is good news for the incumbent, considering the current national political mood.

"Harry Teague surprised the world two years ago when he won in a Republican district," Sanderoff said. "Now we see that he is still hanging in there against a former incumbent in a conservative year in a conservative district. Basically, we have an incumbent running against a former incumbent — both of them are well-known — and the fact that Teague has an ever-so slight lead is encouraging for him."

But he also noted the number of undecided voters means the race could still break either way.
       
The poll also surveyed voters in the first congressional district where Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is in the lead but Republican candidate Jon Barela is showing some gains.

Heinrich, also a first term lawmaker, led by 6 points — 47 percent to 41 percent.

"The good news for Heinrich is that he's ahead," Sanderoff told the paper. "The bad news is that he is the incumbent, and Jon Barela is just now getting himself known."

In the district, 12 percent of voters said they were undecided.

Among independent voters, Heinrich had 45 percent while Barela had 31 percent.

Sanderoff said that was a good sign for Heinrich because "independents are skewing conservative, and Republican this election cycle. But Heinrich at this point in time is doing well among independents. It will be a key group for him to hold onto."

Both Teague and Heinrich are Republican targets this cycle.