ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Unlike the last three presidential races when New Mexico was a swing state, the state is definitely on the sidelines this year. Three different polls in the last month have President Barack Obama leading Republican Mitt Romney by ten points or more. Polls also show the U.S. Senate and House races are not close either.
A recent Albuquerque Journal Poll has Democrat Martin Heinrich leading Republican Heather Wilson by nine points in the Senate race, 48-39. The same poll shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham up by 14 points over Republican Janice Arnold Jones, 51-37, for the U.S. House.
UNM Political Science Professor Gabe Sanchez said the races are the Democrats' to lose.
"We already think we know that Democrats are going to do very well at the state level," said Sanchez.
Sanchez said that will have a big impact on who turns up to vote.
"Democratic voters, especially those that are not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this election, say hey the people I want to win are projected to win, so I can just stay at home and not wait in line," said Sanchez.
But he said if things don't change quickly for the GOP, some Republican voters may stay home too.
"Those folks might say, is there really any point of voting because the people I want don't really have a chance," said Sanchez.
About 70 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for the last presidential election in 2008. Sanchez said this year's lack of competitive big-time races will likely drive those numbers way down.
Even a five percent drop off in voter turnout means 65,000 fewer voters in New Mexico.
Sanchez also expects a lot of mudslinging between the candidates down the two-week stretch.
"What do I have to lose, there are only 2 weeks left and I'm down in the polls, let me take a shot," said Sanchez.
Even though the presidential, House and Senate races are not competitive in New Mexico, there are a lot of tight local races with power in the state House of Representatives hanging in the balance. But Sanchez said he doesn't think those will be enough to drive a lot of the state's registered voters to the polls.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.