Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Mexicans Left Breathing the Dust as the 2016 Nominating Campaign Starts Rolling Up the Tent

Like bit players in a movie standing by for the set to be readied for a take, New Mexicans, as usual, have watched the 2016 presidential campaign from the outer sidelines.  Unlike voters in Iowa or Indiana, presidential candidates have not been seen at local cafes courting them, listening to the local political gossip, trying out new themes.  We've been spectators, bit players without a speaking role, not actors at the center of a stage.  And as the fans begin heading for the exits now that The Trump and Hillary have become the "presumptive" nominees, only California promises to offer some remaining drama, with its primary set for June 7.  We will probably learn a great deal about how Hispanic voters feel about politics (and the Trump Wall) in California, where Los Angeles alone has far more Hispanics than all of New Mexico.  If New Mexico is mentioned at all it will likely be an afterthought.  Twelve percent (548 out of 4766) of the Democratic delegates to the convention will come from California.  About one percent (43 out of 4766) will come from New Mexico.

California will be interesting.  In the Presidential primary there each Democrat voter will vote for one of seven Democratic candidates and each Republican will vote for one of 5 Republican candidates.  However, voters who have registered with no party preference may vote in the Democratic Party presidential primary (or, if they choose to do so, in the American Independent Party or Libertarian Party primaries)--but not in the Republican primary unless they re-register as a Republican by May 23 2016.  Given the sometimes undignified food-fights of the Republican presidential race so far, it seems unlikely many unaffiliated voters will actually switch registration to Republican just to be able to vote for or against Trump in the primary, now that Indiana ended the suspense.  But among unaffiliated voters, it remains to be seen whether many of them will freely walk into the voting booth to vote for Bernie, as they have tended to do in other open primaries.  Given that most California polls show Hillary ahead, a lop-sided chunk of unaffiliated voters appears to be Bernie's only chance of winning there.  I expect most of Bernie's supporters in New Mexico will be calling voters in California rather than voters in New Mexico between now and June 7.

In New Mexico, with the nomination all-but already settled, it seems unlikely the presidential race in either will help turnout.  Local candidates will have to do most of this grunt work.

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