PA & NM

Our “Big 10″ series continues today with two divergent states: Pennsylvania & New Mexico–where in addition to the presidential choice we find intriguing races for the U.S. Senate.

Pennsylvania

Democrats have fared well in the Keystone State up until 2010 when the GOP won a Senate seat, picked up the governor’s office and netted five new Congressional seats. A tightening presidential race has Republicans hopeful of knocking Democrat Senator Bob Casey out of office, but that won’t be an easy task. According to The Cook Political Report, “as critical as some Republicans are of Casey’s voting record, many acknowledge that it is hard not to like him.” The son of a former PA governor, Casey is hard to peg on the political spectrum. He supports and strongly defends his vote in favor of “Obama-care,” but is opposed to same-sex marriage and supports gun owners’ rights. A pro-life stance did not stop him from opposing efforts to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. Although affable, these wide-ranging stances on a number of issues has made it tough for some to fully embrace or reject Casey, although Republicans are clearly hoping such issues as health care will do the trick.

Opposing Casey is newcomer Tom Smith, a former coal-mine worker who eventually became a coal-mine owner. Smith surprised many when he won the Pennsylvania Primary, and has made some rookie mistakes along the way. However, Smith makes hay by being proud of his self-made, pro-business background, and has a bankroll that can strike fear into the heart of most candidates. And Republicans are counting on the tightening presidential numbers to help unseat the one-term Casey.

As in all of the series of states we’re polling by automated means, after qualifying each individual in regards to ability (registered) and intention to vote this fall, we asked the following straightforward questions:

If the election for president were held today, for whom would you vote?
And:  If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, for whom would you vote?

Here are our weighted Pennsylvania results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: July 9-10, 2012 - Participants: 1,227 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
PRESIDENTBarack Obama (D)Mitt Romney (R)Undecided
47%40%13%
U.S. SenateBob Casey (D)Tom Smith (R)Undecided
53%39%8%

New Mexico:

New Mexicans are fiercely independent and wildly divergent in their political views: on a trip to the artist/ski town of Taos you may run into actress Julia Roberts or former Bush-43 hot-button Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Beyond the political dichotomies, the Land of Enchantment (yeah, that’s really their official state nickname) has struggled with ongoing poverty, a terrain that is beautiful but prone to severe droughts and wild fires, and an occasional Keith Morrison-worthy small-town scandal. Although viewed by many as leaning to the left, New Mexico is considered a swing state for presidential races.

The retirement of NM 30-year Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) moves the race for U.S. Senator from a shoo-in for Democrats to a possible toss-up. Democrat U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich will be facing Republican former U.S. Representative  Heather Wilson in this state that–like it’s neighbor Colorado–is tough to categorize. Democrats have enjoyed success in New Mexico in recent years, but 2010 elections resulted in a GOP governor (Susana Martinez) in term-limited New Mexico.

Heinrich is an engineer and former Albuquerque city council member who won Wilson’s congressional seat after she stepped down. He points to his role in saving 1,000 National Guard jobs at Kirtland Air Force Base and fighting for continued funding for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories as his major achievements. Wilson, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Rhodes Scholar, won a 1998 special election to replace the late Republican Steve Schiff. She earned a reputation of a very good campaigner by winning re-election in a swing district targeted by national Democrat forces and funds.

Will New Mexico follow the trend we’ve seen with a tight presidential race that scooches the candidates for Senate closer? Not yet, as it shows in these weighted results:

Poll type:: Automated Date: July 9-10, 2012 - Participants: 1,295 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.8%
PresidentBarack Obama (D)Mitt Romney (R)Undecided
51%40%9%
U.S. SenateMartin Heinrich (D)Heather Wilson (R)Undecided
51%42%7%

 

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