Mapping the Vote: New Mexico County by County
by fbihop, Mon Nov 10, 2008 at 06:22:35 PM EST
President-elect Barack Obama won New Mexico easily on Tuesday. Obama received 120,000, or 14.6 percent, more votes than his Republican counterpart, John McCain in New Mexico. This landed Obama five more electoral votes on his way to a provisional 365-173 victory in the Electoral College. This also shows New Mexico blue in the various election results maps from different news sources.
But it doesn't tell the whole story. Not all of New Mexico went equally to Obama and McCain. Some areas were more favorable to the Democratic candidate, and some to the Republican. There are 33 counties in New Mexico, and Barack Obama won 18, or 54 percent of them. (See right)
The counties that go to Obama include the state's four largest counties in terms of voter registration, Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe and Sandoval. These four counties account for 56.98 percent of the state's registered voters.
And Obama won these counties by an average of 26.32 percent over John McCain. This was an 116,199 vote advantage. Obama ended up winning by 120,197 votes according to preliminary numbers from the Secretary of State's office.
As a point of comparison, Obama outperformed John Kerry in 2004 significantly in these four key counties. Kerry won these counties by an average of 12.07 percent. Kerry, in fact, lost Sandoval County by 2.71 percent to George W. Bush. Kerry won these counties by a combined total of 40,413. Kerry lost the state by 5,988 votes.
How Obama did compared to Gore (left) and Kerry (right). The darker blue the bigger the percentage increase in size of victory over Obama, the same for green with Gore and Kerry.
And while Bernalillo County and Dona Ana Counties were within five percent margins of victory for in 2004, both were above 15 percent margins of victory for Obama in 2008.
The difference between Gore's slight victory in the state in 2000 and Obama's large victory were just as striking in the four counties. Gore won by just 10.64 percent in these four counties, and a total of 24,380. Gore won by 366 votes. And, like Kerry would four years later, Gore lost Sandoval County to Bush, by 1.65 percent.
But it wasn't just these four counties. Obama outperformed Kerry in all 33 counties. Overall, Obama outperformed Kerry by 15.51 percent in the state. County by county, it ranged from a 2.52 percent in final results in Harding County to 24.45 percent in Mora County.
Obama outperformed Gore in 30 of the 33 counties in the state, only being beat out by Gore in DeBaca, Union and Eddy counties. All three went to the Republicans easily in each of the last three elections.
The voter turnout was actually slightly better in the 15 counties McCain won than the 18 counties which went for Obama. In the McCain counties, 68.45 percent of registered voters cast presidential ballots, while in Obama counties, the number was just was at 66.41 percent. But the registered voters in the Obama counties was significantly higher.
(Map to the left shows presidential ballots cast by percentage by county. The darker orange the higher the percentage. Los Alamos had the highest turnout, over 80 percent of registered voters voted in the Presidential election)
The registration in Obama counties was 925,911 -- or more than 75 percent of the state's registered voters. McCain counties contain just 267,079 registered voters.
The fact that voters largely voted along party lines did not help McCain either. According to CNN exit polling, which I wrote everyone should ignore but will now proceed to do the exact opposite, 91 percent of Democrats voted for Obama, while an equal percentage of Republicans voted for McCain. Democrats hold a registration advantage of 52 percent to 33 percent with 12.4 percent decline-to-state (also known as independents) and two percent registered as other third parties. Of course, this exit polling shows that 28 percent of the electorate were decline-to-state voters, which would mean that 228,655 decline to state voters voted. There are just 184,846 decline-to-state voters. Adding in third parties to this number would push that total to 217,700.
Another reason to not believe exit-polling.
But the trend is clear -- Obama managed equal or at least come near McCain's performance with his own party. In CNN's 2004 exit polling, just 84 percent of Democrats voted for Kerry in New Mexico, compared to Bush retaining 95 percent of New Mexico Republican voters that year.
Over 70 percent of registered voters in key counties like Bernalillo (71.4 percent), Santa Fe (71.85 percent) and Sandoval (73.06 percent) cast ballots in the presidential race. Meanwhile in the largest county that favors Republicans, San Juan County, 69.96 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the presidential race.
(Map to the right shows partisan voter registration differences by county. Percentages are from total registration numbers, which includes decline-to-state and third party voters as well as Democrats and Republicans.)
Interestingly enough, presidential ballots cast was actually down from 2004 in some key counties. In the John Kerry-George Bush race, 73.7 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In Sandoval County in 2004, 71.7 percent of registered voters voted in the presidential race. In Santa Fe in 2004, 71.6 percent of registered voters participated in the presidential election in 2004.
In Dona Ana County, 67.6 percent of registered voters voted in 2004, compared to just 61.3 percent in 2008. Dona Ana ranked 28th of 33 counties.
Also interesting is the vote totals of New Mexico as compared to past elections. In 2004, Bush won by 0.79 percent of the vote. In 2000, Gore won by a razor-thin 0.06 percent of the vote. But even the relatively easy victories by Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 were not near the level of Obama's victory. In 1992, Clinton won by 8.56 percent of the vote. In 1996, it dipped to 7.32 percent.
But even with the victory, the largest by a Democrat in New Mexico since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, was no match for the juggernaut of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In 1989, Reagan received 18.19 percent of hte vote. In 1984, Reagan received 18.19 percent of the vote in New Mexico.
His successor, George H.W. Bush, couldn't match that level of victory, winning by 4.96 percent of the vote.
Also notable is that Obama outperformed the national average by such a wide margin. Obama's nationwide victory was 6.35 percent. New Mexico's 14.6 percent victory represents the first time since Reagan's first victory that New Mexico has voted for the president by a percentage margin twice that of the national vote. In 1980, Reagan won nationally by 9.74 percent over Jimmy Carter.
Gore's map against George Bush on the left, Kerry's in the middle and Obamas against McCain on the right. Click for full size.
In all elections since then, New Mexico has voted for the victor by within three percent of the national popular vote percentage.
So what changed?
It appears that the Obama campaign was more successful in getting more of their voters out, while the McCain was not as successful at getting his people out to the polls. Obama had 39 field offices in New Mexico, while McCain had just ten statewide. The much-vaunted 72 hour get out to vote operation which helped Bush win two elections was no match for the army of volunteers and staffers that the Obama campaign had in New Mexico and, indeed, nationwide.
As documentary photographer Brett Marty outlined in a Daily Kos diary, the disparity between the ground games of the two campaigns was staggering even back in September.
For a state that went to Bush by only 5,988 votes in 2004, it was a shock to see how lopsided the state was in terms of field offices. Obama had just opened his 39th office when we were there in mid-September, all of which were heavily active. McCain had just gone from five offices to a generous "ten," a good portion of which turned out to be skeleton operations.The mood of the year wasn't a help to McCain either. The same wave that swept Obama to a large electoral and popular vote victory also helped Democrats capture every federal race in 2008 by wide margins.
Look back tomorrow for analysis of the Senate race and three Congressional races county by county.