Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Election Scorecard for the West

Project New West has compiled our 2010 election scorecard for the West.

This election scorecard is an initial report of race results for some of the major races in AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, and WY. Please note it is not comprehensive and the results are unofficial. PNW will be providing additional updates and analysis of the 2010 elections.

Reid, Bennet, and Hickenlooper - A Western Story Worth Tellin'

Not that long ago, it would have been almost unthinkable that the West would be the firewall for Democratic control of the Senate this election. The influence of this region in American politics will continue to grow as we look forward to 2012 and beyond due to a variety of factors including population growth, the rising influence of Hispanic voters and the powerful role that Independent voters play in the West. Now that results are almost all in, Project New West is beginning to look under the hood at the trends that shaped 2010 and what this means for the future.

Western Independence: In the West, the truth is that you can’t paint the region with one broad brush stroke and neither party should take any state or demographic group for granted. President Obama’s path to victory in 2012 will likely run through Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico - states that should never be put in the category of red or blue, because that’s not how Westerners view ourselves or our candidates. That independent streak is one of the key reasons why Senator Harry Reid, Senator Michael Bennet and Governor-elect John Hickenlooper won their races. They understood that Westerners want problem solvers and not partisan ideologues.

Any candidate who does not have a deep understanding of our region’s profound culture of independence will have a blurred vision of how the West is won. The “Tea Party” candidates of the West faired so poorly because they did not reach out to independent voters and members of the other party. Sharron Angle even refused to talk to media outlets that she didn’t consider friendly. Westerners reject that kind of approach.

Based on exit polling, Senator Reid, Senator Bennet and Governor-elect Hickenlooper won a solid majority of voters in the West who identify themselves as moderates. Project New West has spent a lot of time trying to understand the electorate beyond party labels. One key metric is whether voters consider themselves to be liberal, moderate or conservative. PNW internal polling throughout the cycle showed that moderate voters were leaning Democratic and the public exit polls are confirming this stayed true through election night.

In Colorado, moderate voters made up 38% of the vote – and they went for Bennet 60-36%. In the Governor’s race, Hickenlooper polled 64% among moderates, Republican Dan Maes received 10% and former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo had 25% on the American Constitution Party ticket. These 2010 numbers are very close to Obama’s 2008 performance when he was supported by 63% of moderates in Colorado. Compare that to 2004 when John Kerry only won 54% of Colorado’s moderates and lost the state.

In Nevada, moderate voters supported Senator Reid 65%-31% and made up 41% of the vote. Senator Reid actually outperformed President Obama, who had 64% in 2008. In 2006 in Nevada, Democratic candidate Jack Carter only won 49% of Nevada moderates in a loss to Senator John Ensign.

Hispanics in the West: Another critical factor in the West is the role Hispanic voters will continue to play as their numbers grow in this region and across the country. For example, turnout in Nevada among Hispanic voters was at record levels for a non-presidential year. According to Catalist voter file analysis of the early and absentee voters, the number of Hispanics who early voted in Nevada nearly doubled since 2006, representing a 3.4 point or 44% increase. Hispanics in Nevada represented an equal share of the 2010 early/absentee vote as they did in 2008 early/absentee. In Colorado, Hispanic early and absentee voters represented 0.9% more of the electorate than in 2006 and only 1.6% less than 2008.

A key factor in understanding Hispanic turnout and candidate preference is to understand that this community is not monolithic in its issue priorities, socio-economic background or language usage. In this election cycle, we saw Hispanic voters were no different than the general electorate. Their priorities were jobs, the economy, education and health care. However, immigration became a factor when conservative candidates used it as a vehicle to conduct racially charged campaigns against their Democratic opponents. If Democrats continue to fight for issues important to Hispanics they will continue to garner their support.

In 2010, two Republican Hispanic candidates for Governor won – Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada. However, Hispanic voters overwhelming supported the Democratic candidate in those races based on PNW’s polling of Hispanic early voters. Rory Reid received 66% of the Hispanic early voter and Diane Denish had 21 point advantage over Susana Martinez among New Mexico Hispanic early voters. Why? Because Hispanic voters just like women, chose their candidate preference based on issues not identity.

Gender in the West: We are also seeing that gender played a significant role in western races. According to national congressional exit polls, men voted Republican 55% to 42% Democratic in Congressional exit polls. On the flip side, women were closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, 49 – 48%, compared to 57-43% in 2008. However, we have noticed something unique in Colorado and Nevada where westerners bucked national trends.

In Nevada, Harry Reid won women voters by 11 points, 53-42%, and only lost men by 2 points, 46-48%. In Colorado, the gap was ever greater, Michael Bennet won the female vote by 17 points, 56-39%, and lost men by 10%, 54-40. In the race for Governor, John Hickenlooper tied Tom Tancredo among men with 44% each, but Hickenlooper beat Tancredo by 30 points, 59-29% among women.

So why were Senators Reid and Bennet and Governor-elect HIckenlooper so much more successful at appealing to both women and men than Democratic candidates in other parts of the country? A big reason was that their opponents used social issues to motivate their conservative base in a region that takes a “live and let live” approach. Western voters want to see a government focused on jobs and the economy, supporting education, and providing community services to support our unique Western quality of life. They don’t want the government intruding into their personal lives.

Looking at the West as a whole, Democrats have made significant gains in the past decade. In 2000, Democrats had zero Governors, 3 Senate seats and only 6 of 25 congressional seats. After 2008, they held 5 Governorships, 17 of the 28 seats in Congress and 7 U.S. Senate seats. In 2010, Western Democrats felt the anti-incumbent anger, particularly towards Congress and they now hold 10 congressional seats, 2 Governorships and 7 U. S. Senate seats. The winners and losers of the West going forward will be determined by who digs deep to understand our region, our values and our voters.

Note that Project New West compiled this information from our internal polling and analysis, Catalist analysis and publicly available Edison Research exit poll data access from CNN on November 3, 2010. Exit poll results occasionally shift as the data is weighted to accurately reflect the electorate, particularly among sub-groups.

Find this article posted at the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Senator Harry Reid is tied with Sharron Angle among those who voted early and by mail in Nevada. The automated poll conducted by Project New West and America Votes of 3,244 Nevadans showed both candidates receiving 47% of the vote from those who have already cast their ballot.

Not surprisingly, respondents to the poll said the major issue drivers in this election were jobs and the economy (43%), healthcare (19%) and education (8%).

The Project New West/America Votes poll was conducted October 29 – 30, 2010, among 3,244 respondents dialed from a list of Nevada residents that had already voted. The survey was conducted using integrated voice response (IVR) technology and has a margin of error of +/- 1.72 % at a 95% confidence interval.

Battles for Statehouses

Looking at State Legislature control, there are four key states to look at tonight. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Nevada all have the potential to change control in at least one of their chambers.

Contentious budget battles will be waged in each state as they aim to rectify revenue shortfalls. With Nevada and Arizona continuing to have high unemployment rates, 14.4% and 9.7%[i] respectively, along with some of the worst foreclosure rates in the country (Nevada ranks #1 with Arizona close behind at #3[ii]) both states will face considerable challenges as they approach this coming session.

The other major priority in the coming session will be redistricting. Both Arizona and Nevada are projected to gain a Congressional seat each in reapportionment, Colorado maintaining its seven seats and Montana remaining to have a single at large seat.

The redistricting process is different for each of these states. However, final approval must be voted on by the Legislature and approved by the Governor. For a listing of each state's process NSCL is a good resource.



Colorado's Amendment 62 – The “Personhood” Ballot Measure

In Colorado, Amendment 62 has been placed on the 2010 ballot that would define a fetus as a human being and therefore not only outlaw abortion, but it would also ban many forms of birth control and some fertilization treatments. A similar amendment was defeated in 2008 by over 70% of Colorado voters. A poll conducted in late in 2009 by PNW indicated that many segments of the electorate – including many considered to be surge voters from 2008 – would be motivated to turn out to vote against this measure if it were to make it on the CO ballot in 2010.

In 2008 most Colorado Republicans opposed the Personhood measure. But, early in the primary election season this election cycle, most if not all of the major Colorado Republican candidates for office supported the “Personhood” measure in order to court support during the GOP primary. Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Coloradoans oppose this measure and we are seeing candidates in the general election back away from their earlier support of it. Project New West’s poll of early voters in Colorado shows that 60% of voters reject Amendment 62. Since his initial endorsement, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck has attempted to distance himself on this initial endorsement of this measure.

Western Ballot Measure Preview

Ballot measures were a signature mark of the Progressive era at the turn of the 20th century. The West continues to be the predominant region in the country where ballot measures occur. This year voters were asked to decide on a host of issues through the ballot measure process that tackle the size and scope of government and severely diminishing public services. Many of these measures, like those in Colorado, take an extreme position in limiting government, rolling back the federal health care reform package and addressing social issue ranging from abortion to marijuana.

Economy & Taxes

In Colorado, three conservative anti-government measures on the 2010 ballot (Amendments 60, 61, and Proposition 101) have been opposed by a large left-right coalitions including the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions. All three measures are trailing badly in recent polls.[1]

The citizen-initiated measures are the most controversial and significant. Amendment 60 would cut in half the property taxes for school districts and require the state to make up the difference. It would impose property taxes on authorities and enterprises while repealing previous local voter-approved decisions on property taxes. It would charge property taxes for existing public entities such as airports, hospitals and water authorities through an amendment to the Colorado constitution. An estimated 8,000 teaching jobs will be cut and class sizes would increase proportionally.

Amendment 61 would forbid the state to borrow for long-term public construction projects (Colorado’s Constitution requires that the state balance its budget annually). Local governments would be required to limit their bonding to 10 years, and constrict the bonding limits to a fraction of current levels. Essentially it would eliminate the ability for Colorado to build universities, prisons, highways, museums or other large public projects. It limits cities’ ability to invest in long-term essential public services such as sewage treatment plants, public transportation, libraries, roads, and schools because the 10-year time frame would increase taxpayers’ payments. It would also require a public vote on leasing equipment such as copying machines.

Vehicle fees support local governments’ road and bridge maintenance, local school districts and other local funding. Telecommunications fees support 9-1-1 emergency services. Income taxes support Colorado’s higher education, health care, K-12 education and corrections. Proposition 101 would drastically reduce all of these and create a larger deficit for Colorado’s budget, impacting education, children’s services, public safety and health care. It would reduce vehicle fees that pay for local street maintenance to 1919 levels. A freeze in fees for 9-1-1 services would also prevent growing communities from providing adequate emergency services.

Montanans will vote on a controversial payday lending ballot measure that will cap interest rates on payday loans as 36% (Initiative I-164). Currently the limit on payday loan interest rates is 650%. Proponents argue that Montana working families deserve the ability to get out of the cycle of debt, and that this loan cap will be a step in that direction. The initiative has broad support from the Montana electorate. Opponents appealed the measure earlier this year—appeals which the Montana State Supreme Court denied.[2]


Two states in the West have ballot measures that center around legalizing marijuana. Arizona’s Proposition 203 would legalize medicinal marijuana in the state, similar to Colorado’s current law, passed in 2008. California’s Prop 19 would legalize marijuana. In California, proponents say that legalizing marijuana would create a $1.7 billion industry in a state with severe budget woes. Those over 21 would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use and marijuana could be grown in gardens larger than 25 square feet. In late October, an LA Times poll shows that voters oppose this measure 51-39%.[3]

Colorado, which passed a law allowing medicinal marijuana in 2008, has 26 counties that are considering passing laws which regulate or ban marijuana dispensaries.

Health Care

Arizonans are asked to vote to eliminate the state’s First Things First early child care program. This program would eliminate essential services such as quality child care, early literacy programs, oral health treatments for children, and programs that work to prevent childhood obesity. This proposition was made in order to help balance the state’s budget.

Colorado (Amendment 63), Arizona (Proposition 106), and Oklahoma (Question 756) have a “health care nullification” measure on the 2010 ballot. This measure gives voters the option of opting out of the Affordable Health Care Act—which would, in effect, create thousands of people without health care and place an enormous burden on the already-stressed hospitals and emergency rooms to provide costly care for these uninsured.

Colorado's Amendment 63 is designed to prohibit the state from imposing either a federal or state mandate requiring a person to purchase health care coverage. An individual mandate is one of the significant provisions in the federal health care reform legislation - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


In Arizona, Proposition 111 looks to remake the state’s officeholders by eliminating the position of Secretary of State and transferring those duties to the Lt. Governor. Arizona does not currently have a position of Lt. Governor. Proponents of this Proposition cite government transparency and continuity as their motivation and include Governor Brewer and the Chamber of Commerce. Opponents say that a Lt. Governor that runs on a joint ticket with the governor would create a conflict of interest, as the Lt. Governor would also be the Chief of Elections.[4]

A measure on the ballot in Nevada would allow for the governor to appoint judges to open seats. Judges would have to run for reelection after serving 2 years. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor supports this measure and proponents say that passing the measure would take politics out of the state’s judicial systems.

Anti-Union Measures

Voters in Arizona and Utah will see a measure called “Save Our Secret Ballot” which is diametrically opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which allows workers the freedom to choose to unionize. “Save Our Secret Ballot” would require workers to vote for or against unionizing using a secret ballot. Funders of this measure have right-wing corporate interests. These measures would not have much impact on local laws—however, they would seriously impact EFCA from passing in future Congressional sessions.


Abortion/ Personhood Amendment plays key role in keeping vote close

Denver, CO -- Project New West, in conjunction with America Votes, conducted a large Colorado poll over the weekend of voters who already cast their ballots this election. In 2008, 79% of the Colorado electorate voted before Election Day.

The automated poll of 1,836 Coloradans indicated that Senator Michael Bennet had a slight edge over Ken Buck among people who already voted - 47% to 46%. This is significant in light of the fact that there have been a larger proportion of registered Republicans voting early than Democrats. According to the Colorado Secretary of State on Monday, Republicans had a 61,520 person advantage of ballots cast by their party via mail and in person. With more than a million ballots returned thus far, Colorado looks to be headed toward record turnout in a midterm election and the U.S. Senate contest could go down to the wire, as Bennet’s lead is within the margin of error (+/- 2.29).

Bennet leads unaffiliated voters with 51% and is garnering support from nearly two thirds (65%) of Hispanic voters. Women are also outpacing men in turnout among early voters 52-48% and Bennet leads women by four points.

“The four point gender gap highlights the major role abortion and social issues have taken in the Colorado Senate race,” said Project New West President Jill Hanauer. “No one expected these issues to be front and center and in Colorado, conservatives lose this conversation.“

Among voters supporting Buck, the support for the so-called personhood amendment, on the ballot today, is split with 38% of Buck voters saying they voted against Amendment 62 and 47% saying they voted to pass the amendment. By contrast, only 6% of Bennet supporters registered their support for the amendment. It is clear that the issue caused a wedge among Buck’s traditional base and cost him votes, at least among this early voting sample. The so-called personhood amendment was put on the 2010 ballot in Colorado by citizens’ initiative even after a similar measure was defeat in 2008 by over 70% of Colorado voters.

For either candidate to win today, they needed to appeal to unaffiliated voters, who have been slower to return their ballots or vote early. Field efforts on both sides of the aisle have been geared to persuade independent voters and then to get their supporters to the polls.

The Project New West/America Votes poll was conducted October 29 – 31, 2010, among 1,836 respondents dialed from a list of Colorado residents that had already voted. The survey was conducted using integrated voice response (IVR) technology and has a margin of error of +/- 2.29 % at a 95% confidence interval.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Western Statewide Roundup


Counties to Watch:

  • Maricopa, home to Phoenix, has well over half of Arizona voters.
  • Pima, home to Tucson, and much of CD7 (represented by Raul Grijalva) will be crucial for Democrats.
  • Pinal between Tucson and Phoenix is a potential swing area.

AZ Governor

  • Arizona is an outlier this election cycle, where the issue of immigration has been front and center up and down the ballot due to a controversial immigration law, SB1070 and anger at Washington for inaction on this issue.
  • Arizona, once the second fastest growing state in the nation, suffered even more than most states economically during this recession.
  • Jan Brewer was considered vulnerable in the spring and faced two credible Republican challengers.
  • She was largely unpopular early in her tenure and was has been referred to as the "accidental Governor."
  • In May of 2010, she promoted a statewide sales tax increase that was ultimately passed by 64%. She was largely criticized for this tax increase within her own party and faced two serious primary challengers.
  • Shortly following the tax vote, Brewer signed SB1070. The controversy propelled Governor Brewer's approval ratings significantly and her primary challengers left the race.
  • Although this law has been popular with Arizona voters, polling conducted by PNW, showed that even more favored comprehensive immigration reform. 73% of Arizona voters surveyed supported a federal solution while only 60% supported SB1070.


Counties to Watch:

  • Larimer, Jefferson, & Arapahoe are suburban counties that swung from Bush to Obama.
  • El Paso & Douglas are the GOP's strongest major counties. Will they support Dan Maes or Tom Tancredo, who used to represent Douglas in Congress?
  • Denver turnout will be crucial for Bennet and other statewide Democrats. In 2006, Democrats lost down ballot races when Denver city voters had to wait in line for hours.

CO Governor

  • John Hickenlooper chose not to run any negative campaign advertisements despite frequent attacks from the other side. Some have criticized that choice saying that it made him more vulnerable in a general election. Will this decision get him support from Independent voters and Republicans?
  • Tom Tancredo's Next Move: In three months, he's gone from being a marginal failed Republican presidential candidate in 2008 to coming within single digits of winning the Governorship in recent public polling. PNW can't be the only people out there considering the impact of a Palin / Tancredo GOP Presidential ticket. In fact, on Election Eve, Palin endorsed Tancredo in the race.
  • Will Republican Dan Maes get 10% of the vote? If not, the Republican Party could be relegated to "minor-party" status affecting their ballot access and fundraising in future elections.

Colorado Senate

  • Gender Gap: Ken Buck's gaffes started in the primary against Jane Norton. Democrats have hammered him on social issues, especially his position in support of the controversial 'personhood' anti-abortion ballot measure that was overwhelmingly defeated in 2008 and is back in 2010. If Bennet gets the support of independent women, and even a small number of moderate Republicans, it may put him over the finish line. No one expected social issues to play the role that they did in Colorado.
  • Over $40 million was spent on the Colorado Senate race and the race is a dead heat.
  • We know roughly where Bennet will position himself in a full term on the issues. However if Buck wins, does he join the "Tea Party" caucus or will he be an independent western voice for Colorado?


Counties to Watch:

  • Ada & Canyon are the home of Boise and the Treasure Valley. Both have experienced tremendous population and economic growth over the past decade, increasing demand for roads and schools.

ID Governor

  • As a state where Republicans dominate every level of government, Idaho will be a good barometer of the strength of the anti-incumbent mood this year.
  • Long-time Idaho politician Butch Otter is running for re-election as Governor. Democratic candidate Keith Allred has run an aggressive campaign, highlighting Otter's decision to cut school funding to balance the state budget.
  • Election Day turnout may be a deciding factor. Idaho allows same-day voter registration, which previous PNW research shows heavily favors Republicans.

New Mexico

Counties to Watch:

  • Bernallio, home to Albuquerque, is the population center with 30% of New Mexico voters.
  • Sandoval & Valencia are two exurban counties that swung from Bush to Obama
  • Lea is southwest the home of Harry Teague and Diane Denish but typically votes Republican.

NM Governor

  • New Mexico Democrats control not only the Statehouse and Governor's mansion, but all five federal representatives and six of seven statewide offices. Despite successes in 2008, New Mexico is still a swing state.
  • Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish appeared to be in good shape early in 2010 to win the Governor's race. However, the anti-incumbent mood was leveraged by Republicans to paint the election of her race as a third term for Bill Richardson.
  • The Republican Governor's Association backed a Hispanic woman candidate in the GOP primary. Susana Martinez used her experience as a county prosecutor to position herself as a tough on crime, corruption and border security.
  • Hispanics make up 41% of the voters and support Obama overwhelmingly. It will be interesting to see Hispanic turnout and performance in an off-year where Martinez has been actively courting them.


Counties to Watch:

  • Clark, home of Las Vegas and surroundings, contains 70% of Nevada votes, including CD1 & CD3. Winning Democratic candidates usually get 52% of the vote in Clark. Most of the state legislative battleground are here (SD5, 8, & 9).
  • Washoe on the northwest border with California flipped from Bush to Obama.

NV Governor

  • The anger of Nevada's voters over the worst unemployment and housing numbers in the country was evidence early on when the GOP voted out their sitting incumbent Jim Gibbons.
  • Rory Reid suffered from the anti-incumbent sentiment due to his position on the Clark County board and his last name.
  • Brian Sandoval has run as a moderate and stayed away from Sharron Angle and the right wing of his party.

NV Senate

  • It will be interesting to see what the gender gap is in this race between a Democratic man and a Republican woman.
  • How will Hispanic voters turnout and perform after controversy over immigration and anti-Latino television ads?
  • Partisan turnout will be crucial since only 20% of Nevada voters are unaffiliated or third party.
  • Voters in Nevada have the unique choice of casting a ballot for "none of these candidates" in addition to several third party candidates like Scott Ashjian of the Tea Party.
  • Early voting returns suggest that more Democrats have voted than Republicans although Independent voters could swing either way.


Counties to Watch:

  • Salt Lake will need to go heavily Democratic for Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon to win. Salt Lake County has grown rapidly over the past decade, and its population has become increasingly culturally and racially diverse.
  • Weber and Utah are key suburban counties outside Salt Lake

UT Governor

  • When popular Governor John Huntsman joined the Obama administration as Ambassador to China, he was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert, who is considered significantly to the right of Huntsman.
  • In this strongly Republican-leaning state, Democrat Corroon chose Republican State House Representative Sheryl Allen to be his running mate against Herbert.
  • Herbert suffered some serious ethical issues during the campaign which tarnished his image in this devoutly LDS state
  • Corroon has run a strong campaign but the state leans heavily Republican.

Analysis of Early Returns

In many western states, early and mail-in voting has become the primary method of voting. In 2008, only 21% of Colorado voters went to the polls on Election Day. Typically, the voters who return their ballots fastest are hard partisans on both sides. Interestingly, men typically return their ballots or vote early at a faster rate than women. Since Democrats need women and unaffiliated votes to win, this means that the final get out the vote push will be crucial to their prospects.

Historically, Republicans have had an advantage in absentee voting by mail. This year seems to be no exception. However, Democrats should be encouraged that they are voting in larger numbers in Nevada and New Mexico. Of course, no one can tell how people are actually voting, so partisan defectors and independent voters will hold the key to the results on election night.

Project New West and America Votes will be releasing Colorado poll results early Tuesday morning. Check back here at 10 am MDT for this unique look at early voters and numbers in the crucial U.S. Senate election. Here is a swing state breakdown:


According to Catalist voter file data, CD1 & CD8 are divided roughly evenly by partisanship, so Independent voters will most likely swing those. CD3 is heavily Republican, while CD7 is heavily Democratic. In CD5, Congressman Harry Mitchell will need to get strong support from Independent voters to overtake a minor Republican turnout advantage.


According to America Votes data, Republicans have a 52,000 person advantage of ballots cast by their party.

Democrats will need a final push to win statewide. They may get support from the over 240,000 unaffiliated voters have already cast a ballot.

Democratic turnout efforts have been calibrated to go after late voters in the final few days. And of course, Colorado’s large unaffiliated vote may swing enough to decide the race.

Statewide, if Independent voters don’t break towards the Democrats by some margin, it could be a rough night. Women have been a major target of Democratic efforts. If Michael Bennet can get even a small percentage of Republican women to support him, he will be positioned to win.

In CD4 & CD3, more Republicans than Democrats have voted, but that is consistent with registration and previous years, when Democratic candidates won. In CD7, Democrats are outvoting Republicans by a small margin.


According to America Votes data in Nevada, Democrats are in good position in Nevada. Democrats comprise 43.5% of the early & absentee voters, Republicans 40.6%, unaffiliated voters are 11.3%, and minor party voters 4.3%. In overall numbers, over 11,000 more Democrats have voted than Republicans. Republicans have a slight edge in intensity, as 37.8% of their registered voters have cast a ballot compared to only 35.0% of Democrats.

CD3 numbers are extremely close to the statewide margins: Democrats have 43.3% share and Republicans 40.6%, which translates to a roughly 5,000 voter advantage.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, we are showing Democratic voters outpacing Republican voters statewide by about 8,500 votes with many more Democratic voters left to return their ballots. During the last two weeks, Democrats and Republicans were returning ballots at similar rates, however there has been a noticeable increase in Democratic voters over the past 5 days. In CD1 & CD3 Democrats are voting in much higher numbers than Republicans. In CD2, Republicans have a slight edge.

The key questions are which way are the 16% of New Mexico’s independent voters leaning and will there be a higher percentage of Democratic voters that support Republican candidates than in 2008?

Congressional Races to Watch in the West

After the 2000 election, six Democrats represented the New West in Congress. By 2008, 17 Democrats were elected in the region. The following analysis of key races has been compiled from public data including FEC spending reports through October 31.

3rd Congressional District (Rep. John Salazar, D vs. Scott Tipton, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 20%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 5
In Colorado’s third district, Democratic Congressman John Salazar faces a strong challenge from state Representative Scott Tipton. This district which contains most of Colorado’s mountain counties, the Western Slope and Pueblo has always been a swing district that Salazar has represented since his first election in 2004. It was previously represented by Republican Scott McInnis and then-Democrat Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Salazar fits the district well as a potato seed farmer from the San Luis valley, but the party registration will always be a challenge in this conservative-leaning swing district.

2010 Campaign Spending
2008 Results
4th Congressional District (Rep. Betsy Markey, D vs. Cory Gardner, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 16%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 6
Democratic Congresswoman Betsy Markey handily defeated conservative fire-brand Marilyn Musgrave in 2008 during the Obama surge. In 2010, she faces a much tougher election year dynamic and a far less volatile challenger, Republican state Representative Cory Gardner. Markey has worked hard in her two-year tenure to represent the 4th CD, but the registration disadvantage and general mood forces her to swim upstream to maintain her seat. The largest unknown dynamic will be how much of an impact the American Constitutional Party and Libertarian candidates will have on the race, considering Tom Tancredo may highlight the ACP to conservative voters. In 2006, a third party candidate received 11% of the vote in this district that lies to Denver’s North and East, containing Ft. Collins, Greeley and the bulk of Colorado’s less populated Eastern Plains.

2010 Campaign Spending

7th Congressional District (Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D vs. Ryan Frazier, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 23%
Partisan Voter Index: D + 4
The 7th Congressional District in Colorado was carved in the 2000 redistricting to be the prototypical swing district. In hotly contested elections, it was first won by Republican Bob Beauprez in 2002 and 2004, but Ed Perlmutter took the district in 2006 and handily held off challengers in 2008. In 2010, this suburban district is seeing another hotly-contested election between Perlmutter and Aurora Councilman Ryan Frazier. As with many races, turnout among this district’s underserved electorate will determine the outcome, as the 7th typically has some of the lower turnout in the state. Independent money has flowed heavily and late into this expensive media market, with Frazier supporters mainly criticizing Perlmutter on health care votes and as a tax-and-spend liberal. On the other side, Frazier has been criticized for his poor attendance in Aurora City Council meetings and for working for a company that outsources jobs overseas.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results
New Mexico
1st Congressional District (Rep. Martin Heinrich, D vs. John Barela, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 42%
Partisan Voter Index: D + 5
The first district on New Mexico consists of Albuquerque, which is the largest metro area in the state. The 2008 election saw New Mexico CD1 elect a Democrat for the first time when Rep. Martin Heinrich won a seat that had been held by Republican Heather Wilson since 1998. The 2010 race for CD1 was highly contested and tight up, with a recent Albuquerque Journal poll giving Barela a 3 point lead.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results
2nd Congressional District (Rep. Harry Teague, D vs. Steve Pearce, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 46%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 6
In 2008, Representative Harry Teague won the seat that had been held by Republican Steve Pearce since 2002 and had been a Republican seat since 1980. Representative Teague’s election came in a year when many Democrats were swept in as part of the 2008 Presidential election and when there was no Republican incumbent to challenge. Pearce, who lost the 2008 GOP primary for US Senate, jumped into the race creating a contest between the current and former congressmen. Polling shows this race has been within the margin of error for a year. Keep an eye on the western half of the district, where the Democrats have strength.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results
2nd Congressional District (Rep. Jim Matheson, D vs Morgan Philpott, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 6.6%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 15
Jim Matheson was first elected to a Democratic-leaning district in 2000. Republicans tried to gerrymander his district in 2002, but he won re-election despite being a top target of the NRCC. As an independent, western Democrat, Matheson has increased his margin every year since and is expected to win in 2010. With Utah projected to gain a seat in the 2012 census, his performance in 2010 will go a way to determining what happens in redistricting.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results
Congressional At Large District (Rep. Denny Rehberg, R vs. Dennis McDonald, D)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 2.2%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 7
The Montana Congressional race has been relatively quiet this year, aside from a boat crash and allegations of mafia ties. Neither party has targeted the race for independent expenditures nor has any public polling been released. However, this race is a key window into 2012 and beyond. Congressman Dennis Rehberg is considered to be a leading Republican candidate for the open 2012 Governor's race or to challenge Democratic Senator Jon Tester.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results

1st Congressional District (Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D vs. Paul Goser, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 16.5%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 6
Prior to Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s election in 2008, this seat was held by a Republican the four previous cycles. With Rick Renzi's retirement in 2008, Kirkpatrick won in a race that did not have an incumbent to challenge in a year that swept-in many Democrats in traditionally Republican districts. Republican Paul Goser is challenging Kirkpatrick in 2010.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results

3rd Congressional District (open: Jon Hurlburd, D vs. Ben Quayle, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 17%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 9
Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District is an open seat when John Shadegg, the Republican incumbent of 8 years, retired. Ben Quayle (R), Jon Hurlburd (D), Michael Shoen (Lib), and Leonard Clark (Green) are vying for the open seat. Quayle won the hotly contested Republican primary, beating 9 other candidates. Quayle is former Vice President Dan Quayle’s son and rose to notoriety in August 2010 when he called President Obama the worse President in American history in an ad. Quayle, thought to win the seat easily, is trailing Hurlburd 44-46% in a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling October 16-17.

2010 Campaign Spending
2008 Results

5th Congressional District (Rep. Harry Mitchell, D vs. David Schweikert, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 14%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 5
Arizona’s 5th Congressional District is in the northeastern part of Maricopa County, including Scottsdale and Tempe. Representative Harry Mitchell has held this seat beginning in 2006, which had previously been held by a Republican for the prior three cycles. The 2010 contest between Mitchell and David Schweikert is a rematch from 2008, where Mitchell won by 9%. A poll conducted by PNW in mid-September showed Representative Mitchell up by only one point over Schweikert. Thirty-two percent of the respondents to this poll also identified themselves as Independents, which will be a key demographic to win for any candidate in this district.

2010 Campaign Spending
2008 Results

7th Congressional District (Rep. Raul Grijalva, D vs. Ruth McClung, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 49%
Partisan Voter Index: D + 6
Arizona’s 7th Congressional District is located in the southwestern part of the state and includes Yuma County and parts of La Paz, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 50% of this district identifies themselves as Hispanic. This district was drawn as part of the 2000 redistricting and has been represented by Congressman Raul Grijalva since its creation. Grijalva faces Republican Ruth McClung.

2010 Campaign Spending
2008 Results

8th Congressional District (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D vs. Jesse Kelly, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 17%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 4
In the southeast of Arizona, 8th Congressional District includes Cochise County and parts of Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties. This seat was drawn as part of the 2000 redistricting efforts and has traditionally been a Republican-held seat prior to the election of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2006. A poll conducted by Ayers, McHenry, and Associates in early September showed Giffords tied with Republican Jesse Kelly.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results

3rd Congressional District (Rep. Dina Titus, D vs. Joe Heck, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 18%
Partisan Voter Index: D + 2
Nevada’s third congressional district was created after the 2000 census to represent the fast growing suburbs around Las Vegas with a balance between Democratic and Republican registration. Much like Colorado’s 7th Congressional district, Nevada’s CD3 has seen a shift toward a slight Democratic registration edge since 2002. Jon Porter represented the district for three terms, until his defeat in 2008 by Dina Titus. In 2010, Titus faces former Republican State Senator Joe Heck who lost his 2008 bid for re-election in the Nevada’s 5th Senate district. Recent polling shows a close race.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results

1st Congressional District (Rep. Walt Minnick, D vs. Raul Labrador, R)
Hispanic Voting Age Population: 7%
Partisan Voter Index: R + 18
In 2008, Walt Minnick surprised the pundits by winning this highly Republican seat. Minnick was expected to be a one-term congressman but he has remained quite popular even in this anti-incumbent environment because he knows his district well and has represented their views in Washington. Republican immigration attorney Raul Labrador defeated Tea Party favorite Vaughn Ward in the GOP primary. Keep an eye on the returns in northern Idaho where Minnick performed well in 2008.

2010 Campaign Spending

2008 Results

Partisan Voting Index by The Cook Report,