Polling done this week finds that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has lost some support in New Mexico — and he may also be dragging down GOP legislative candidates locked in a heated battle for control of the N.M. House of Representatives.
Trump’s support has dropped this week by an average of 8-10 percentage points in several legislative districts in New Mexico. That’s according to a Republican source who has access to polling conducted since last Friday’s release of a 2005 video showing Trump making lewd comments about women. Some of Trump’s lost support is going to Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, the source said, but more of it is going to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of polling data, said support for Republican state legislative candidates is also dropping this week in the districts polled, though not as much as Trump’s.
“Polling shows that Trump is now dragging down legislators,” the source said, adding that there’s a real possibility Republicans could lose control of the state House, which they’ve held the last two years for the first time in decades.
The source didn’t say which legislative districts were polled or release any other information. And there’s been no publicly released polling of New Mexico voters since the video of Trump was released Friday.
But the New Mexico polling described by the source matches what’s happening across much of the nation. One poll, for example, found voters in Wisconsin shifting to Clinton after the release of the Trump video.
The survey asked Wisconsin voters about the presidential race the day before, day of, and the two days after the video was released. Clinton trailed among voters polled the day before by 1 percentage point. She led among voters polled the day the video was released by 6 points. And she led the two days after by 19 points.
Clinton is ahead by nearly 12 points in Michigan, according to a poll conducted there on Sunday. Her lead grew by nearly 7 points from a previous poll in late September — not because she gained much support, but because Trump lost. In the new survey, 25 percent of Michigan Republicans said Trump should drop out of the race.
And a poll of Pennsylvania voters conducted from Friday-Tuesday, after the video’s release, found Clinton leading in that state by 9 points. Some 60 percent of likely voters, including 24 percent of Trump supporters, said they were bothered a lot by the video.
Nationally, a Fox News poll released Thursday showed Clinton’s lead over Trump widening to 7 points, 45 percent to 38 percent. “Trump’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated: 70 percent of his backers ‘strongly’ supported him last week. That’s 63 percent now,” Fox News reported. “For Clinton, it’s 66 percent, up from 57 percent.”
“If the Republicans are not at rock-bottom, they can certainly see the bottom from where they are,” GOP pollster Daron Shaw, who conducted the Fox News poll with Democrat Chris Anderson, was quoted as saying.
Two polls conducted before the video’s release gave differing pictures of the state of the presidential race in New Mexico. One, conducted Sept. 27-29 for the Albuquerque Journal, had Clinton at 35 percent, Trump at 31 percent, and Johnson at 24 percent. Another, conducted Sept. 28-Oct. 2 for KOB-TV, had Clinton at 46 percent, Trump at 33 percent, and Johnson at 14 percent.
The legislative battle
Some Republicans nationally, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, appear to have given up on Trump winning the presidential race and are shifting their focus to trying to keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“With the momentum fully in her favor, Hillary’s aiming for a total liberal takeover. She’s shifting her resources to secure Congress for her radical liberal agenda,” the National Republican Congressional Committee, the fundraising arm of House Republicans, wrote in a Thursday fundraising email. “We CANNOT let her destroy the last line of defense for conservative values.”
That concern is playing out in New Mexico too, where Republicans took control of the state House in 2014 for the first time in decades, winning a 37-33 majority. The two major parties are battling for control of the House and also fighting over several state Senate seats, though Republicans aren’t expected to wrestle control of the Senate away from Democrats.
Some Republican candidates in New Mexico have responded with disgust to the video, which shows Trump talking about trying unsuccessfully to have sex with a married woman and claiming to kiss and grab women “by the pussy” without their consent. And since Trump denied at a Sunday debate actually doing the things he claimed to do in the video, several women have come forward to accuse him of doing exactly what he described.
State Rep. Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, who is in a tough re-election battle against Democrat Nathan Small, denounced Trump on Saturday when asked about the video, saying the presidential candidate’s comments were “terribly offensive” and he doesn’t support anyone in the presidential race.
Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, who is in a hot battle with Democratic challenger Ane Romero, called Trump’s comments “offensive and disgraceful.” But she didn’t say if she will vote for Trump.
Several other Republican legislative candidates in close races haven’t responded to NMPolitics.net’s emails seeking comment.
Republicans in New Mexico, like elsewhere, are divided over Trump. Gov. Susana Martinez has said she won’t support him. But others, including U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and state GOP Chairwoman Debbie Maestas, have reaffirmed their support for Trump.
Republican secretary of state candidate Nora Espinoza, meanwhile, has refused to comment on Trump’s words, saying she’s focused on her own race.