Mapping the Vote: New Mexico County by County (Congress Edition)
by fbihop, Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 10:44:20 AM EST
See also the Presidential edition.
While much of the attention was on the presidential election during the past few months, all political eyes are now on Minnesota, Alaska and Georgia's U.S. Senate races. Alaska and Minnesota are
in the middle of recounts that could last weeks still counting ballots, while Georgia is readying itself for a special election next month. Here in New Mexico, there was not as much drama in the race for Senate or even, ultimately, any of the open House seats.
When Republican Sen. Pete Domenici retired after decades of service in the U.S. Senate, all three New Mexico representatives jumped at the chance to enter the race. After a brutal Republican primary, conservative Steve Pearce prevailed over moderate Heather Wilson and went on to face Democrat Tom Udall. Udall had no primary opposition.
And Udall did very well (see right), especially in his home 3rd Congressional District. Udall won all but four of the 16 full and partial counties (five counties in New Mexico are split between two or three congressional districts). Conservative Roosevelt, Curry and San Juan counties went to Pearce. Pearce won none of these counties by more than 5 percent.
In Pearce's 2nd Congressional District, Udall won 10 of the 18 full or partial counties. Even eliminating the partial counties of Bernalillo (just 1,100 voters from the 2nd Congressional District) and McKinley (1,900) leaves Udall taking eight of 16 counties.
And Udall held down the margins of victory in counties that even bedeviled Barack Obama. Obama won the state presidential race by over 14 percent, but had tough times in the southeastern counties. While Pearce racked up big victories in Chaves (where he won by 21.75 percent), Eddy (16.43 percent), Lea (48.33 percent) and Catron (25.80 percent), he was never to match the 69.06-percent victory by Udall in Santa Fe County or the 66-percent victory in San Miguel County. Udall even went into Dona Ana County, admittedly the most Democratic-friendly area of southern New Mexico, and scored a 22-percent victory, eclipsing Obama's 17 percent victory in the same county.
All this added up to a victory of 61 percent to 39 percent by Udall over Pearce.
Just as New Mexico was expected to be a battleground state in the presidential election and turned out to be called early, so were two of the three congressional races in the state. All three districts were Democratic victories by more than 10 points. Ben Ray Lujan led the way with a 56.56-to-30.67-percent victory over Dan East, with independent Carol Miller taking 12.77 percent. Harry Teague had a 55.91-to-44.09-percent victory over Ed Tinsley in the 2nd Congressional District, while Martin Heinrich managed a 55.50-to-44.50-percent victory over Darren White.
Results from the 1st Congressional District in New Mexico. Map at right from 2004 between Heather Wilson (red) and Richard Romero (blue). Results from 2008 at right between Martin Heinrich (blue) and Darren White (red).
The Heinrich map is perhaps the less informative. There are only five counties in the district, and 90 percent of all votes cast came from Bernalillo County. Heinrich won Bernalillo County by 12.27 percent, to net 32,639 votes. The most current unofficial vote tally shows Heinrich 32,494 votes ahead of Darren White.
White won two out of the five counties, but the number of voters in those counties was a fraction of what was needed to win the seat. This was a poorer showing than incumbent Heather Wilson two years ago. For example, Wilson carried Valencia County by 377 votes. White lost the same county by 452 votes.
Wilson carried the outlying counties by 2,111 votes in 2006 (not pictured). That race was decided by 866 votes. White managed to win these counties by just 135 votes. Of course none of this matters, as the margin of victory in Bernalillo County was actually higher than the total number of votes in the outlying counties.
The outlying counties may make a difference in a very close election, but otherwise serve little function.
The results in the 2nd Congressional District. Left is from 2004 between Steve Pearce (red) and Gary King (blue), and to the right is 2008, with Ed Tinsley (red) and Harry Teague (blue).
The Second Congressional District race was another surprisingly easy victory for the Democrats. This is perhaps the most interesting map, showing how Harry Teague kept the margins down in the southeastern portion of the state and, indeed, even winning Eddy County by the smallest of margins -- currently 31 votes out of 19,603 cast, or 0.16 percent.
This is a county where Pearce beat Democrat Gary King by 34.72 percent in 2004. That year, King won just four counties out of the 18 full and partial counties in the district. Taking away Bernalillo and McKinley, both counties where only part of the county was included in the district, King won just two counties: Grant and Cibola. This year, again excluding Bernalillo and McKinley, Teague won 11 of the 16 counties.
Catron County was the best county for Tinsley, going to the Republican by 25.16 percent. Cibola, Grant and Socorro counties all went for Teague by higher margins.
Tinsley gained 1,405 votes in Otero County, the largest margin of votes in county for the Capitan rancher. There were six counties where Teague gained more votes, including Valencia County. Valencia went to Pearce by 2,282 votes in 2004.
Teague also made significant inroads in Dona Ana County. Pearce virtually tied there, winning by just 13 votes in 2004. This year, Teague won by 14,792 votes. By every measure, Teague did not only better than Tinsley -- he did significantly better.
Looking at the map, it is difficult to see how any Democrat could possibly do better in the district.
Maps of the results in New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District. The 2004 race at left between Tom Udall (blue) and Greg Tucker (red). The 2008 race at right with Ben Ray Lujan (blue) and Dan East (red).
Though the map initially looks significantly worse for Lujan than it does for Udall, this does not account for Carol Miller. The independent candidate did not win any county, though she did come in second in Santa Fe and Taos counties, but she did siphon off votes from eventual winner Lujan.
This isn't to say that Lujan would have won any of these counties without Miller on the ticket. Only in Los Alamos County did Miller receive a greater amount of votes than the amount that Lujan lost by. Even so, Lujan won by running up the margins in the traditionally Democratic areas. There is nowhere for Republicans to make up the kind of margins that a Democrat can run up in McKinley, Santa Fe, Taos and Rio Arriba counties.
Lujan won three of the four counties by above fifty percent margins. Santa Fe was a 48.22 percent margin, but that still netted Lujan a 31,846 vote victory in the county. Santa Fe was Miller's best county, where she received 11,692 votes. This was about a third of her total votes (35,812).
East won San Juan County by 3,592 votes. His best county by raw numbers, but it was just a 7.91 percent margin of victory over Lujan.
Lujan couldn't compete with Udall's numbers in the 2004 race. Udall, a multi-term incumbent by that time, ran against virtual unknown Tucker. Tucker managed to win just one county in the Congressional District -- San Juan. And even that by only 1.63 percent.
Dan East is also a virtual unknown, but was not running against an incumbent and was aided by Miller's presence on his way to victories in five counties. Even so, East lost by over 72,000 votes to Lujan.
All numbers in this piece are current from the Secretary of State's office as of Monday evening at 10:00 p.m.