2016 New Mexico Landscape Survey

The Center for Civic Policy (CCP) commissioned a statewide poll in early December of 2015 for the purpose of getting a reading of public opinion regarding some key public policy issues as New Mexico prepares for another legislative session.

Here are some key takeaways:

Issues Environment

Voters were asked, “Of all the issues facing New Mexico, what is the single most important one to you that the state government in Santa Fe can do something about? And what is the next most important issue?” Voters overwhelmingly care most about two issues – schools and education (34% top two issue) and the economy and jobs (28% top two issue). Concerns about crime/drugs/DUI (12% top two issue) lag far behind.

Economic Justice

We tested two statements describing the relationship between the economic challenges facing working families and the power dynamics in New Mexico. These were adapted from the “Everyone Economics” polling conducted by Americans United for Change and other national groups. Voters were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following:

Statement #1

“In New Mexico today, too many politicians have handed power over to corporate lobbyists and changed the rules, giving out big tax breaks and favors to the wealthy and to out-of-state corporations while wages have stayed low, middle class incomes have flat-lined, jobs have disappeared and working families and small businesses struggle just to stay afloat.”

 Among active voters an overwhelming 75% agreed with this critique of New Mexico today with 16% disagreeing for a net agreement of +59%. Those who strongly agreed (59%) surpassed those who strongly disagreed (7%). There was hardly any daylight between agreement among Hispanics (76%) and Anglos (75%).

Statement #2

“The same-old trickle-down policies simply aren’t working. Out-of-state corporate CEOs and the well-connected keep getting tax breaks, while ordinary New Mexicans struggle living paycheck to paycheck. We need to reform state government so that it works for working families, not just wealthy special interests.”

Agreement with the second statement was even stronger. Among active voters, 77% agreed with 16% disagreeing for a net agreement of +65%. Those who strongly agreed (63%) surpassed those who strongly disagreed (8%). Hispanic agreement was even higher (88%) compared to Anglos (72%).

Voters in every age, education, ethnicity, income, and political and ideological group share the overall critique about the economy and government. Hispanic women are literally universal in their agreement that the economy isn’t working for average people and needs fundamental reform.

Automatic Voter Registration

A majority of voters (58%) support automatically registering voters when they turn 18 or move to New Mexico, and allowing them to remain registered when they move anywhere in the state. Just a third (35%) oppose it.

Religious Refusal Laws

A majority (51%) of voters oppose new religious refusal laws that would expand the ways in which people could be exempt from laws and regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Only 28% support this while a fifth (20%) cannot offer an opinion.

Planned Parenthood

Despite the efforts of anti-choice zealots to smear and destroy Planned Parenthood, those already favorable towards the organization have become more so. 45% New Mexico voters had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood. Now, while the overall opinion has stayed the same (46%), intense favorability – those giving it a rating of ‘9’ or ‘10’ – have increased by 11 points. Those choosing lower favorable scores, between ‘6’ and ‘8’, have fallen by a similar share of 11 points. Unfavorable opinion of the group has also increased (from 30% in January to 36% in December) overall but not in intensity. Those without an opinion, either a neutral rating of ‘5’ or unawareness of the organization, fell from 25% to 19%.

While the state of New Mexico doesn’t directly provide funding to Planned Parenthood, voters oppose efforts to permanently block it. Overall, 57% oppose the state blocking funding while just around a third (35%) support it. Only 8% fail to offer an opinion. Hispanics oppose this ban at the same rate as Anglos. A significant gender gap emerges among Anglos based on education. Anglo men who didn’t graduate college split on this while non-college graduate women oppose it by almost a two-to-one margin. Among Anglos who did graduate from college, men and women oppose it similarly.

“Right to Work”

When asked to say which issues they find more important for the New Mexico government to deal with, just two people volunteer anything about passing a “right to work” law while 30% of all voters say they want the state to address the economy, jobs, and raising wages. After this open-ended question, we gave voters a choice five issue to pick as the top priority for the Governor and state legislature to address next year:

  • Growing New Mexico jobs
  • Funding for public schools
  • Public safety, crime and prison reform
  • Restoring trust to state elections, and
  • Right to work legislation

Just 5% selected “right to work.” Jobs (33%) and public schools (32%) were the overwhelming choices, followed by public safety (18%). A similar share (6%) pick restoring trust to state elections.

Food Tax

While New Mexicans are divided on many issues, they come together in opposition to imposing a sales tax on food. Four-fifths (80%) oppose it and just 15% support it. When couched as part of a broader effort to lower the sales tax on all goods, opposition stays strong (62%) while support comes in at just 29%. Voters in all income groups oppose it similarly.

Best Approach to Address Crime: Tougher Penalties vs. Treatment Programs

When it comes to reducing crime, more voters in New Mexico believe in to focusing more resources on programs like early-education, drug abuse treatment, mental health services, and family crisis intervention (49%) than mandating life sentences for anyone who commits three violent crimes (35%). Partisanship, age, and educational attainment split voters on this question. Hispanics and Anglos, men and women, prefer treatment over tougher penalties.

The 2016 Landscape Poll was conducted by Third Eye Strategies. This was a survey of 602 active voters in the state of New Mexico. Respondents were interviewed between 6:00 and 9:00 pm on December 4th through 7th, 2015. 51.5% (310) of interviews were conducted on cell phones. The data were adjusted slightly by gender, age, and ethnicity by region to best represent the distribution of active likely voters and those recently registered.

All polls are subject to errors caused by interviewing a sample of persons, rather than the entire population. In 95 cases out of 100, the responses to this survey should be within plus or minus 4.28 percentage points of those that would have been obtained from interviewing the entire population of likely voters.