Republican Jon Barela is the underdog in his race against Rep. Martin Heinrich, D, in New Mexico’s First Congressional district. But the early voting numbers have to give him some hope.
GMU Professor Mike McDonald has been tracking the early vote in several states and counties, including Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque and cast more than 80 percent of the votes in the district in 2008. First, remember that New Mexico Democrats, much like those in West Virginia, dominate the state in terms of registration but are known to split their tickets. Then take a look at this year’s early voting in Bernalillo County compared to that of 2008, when Heinrich won with 56 percent:
??Party 2010 2008
Dem 46.5% 52.7%
Rep 42.5% 32.8%
Other 10.9% 14.5%
That accounts for about 100,000 votes so far, or more than half the total number of ballots cast in Election 2006, when early in-person voting was significantly less common.
A ten-point swing toward Republicans from 2008, and a six-point swing away from Democrats, has to make you think that this one will at least be close. This tally doesn’t include the other four counties in the district, but their totals were quite small, and on the whole they slightly favored the losing Republican candidate.
UPDATE: Just when I say Barela is the underdog, the Albuquerque Journal comes out with a poll giving him a slight lead.