See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How New Mexico Votes: Red State or Blue State?
In 2008, Hispanic voters, who then comprised 41% of New Mexico's electorate, cast a whopping 69% of their ballots for Democrat Barack Obama, causing him to win New Mexico.
Also, of the 55% of 2008 voters in New Mexico who cited the economy as their top concern, 60% voted for Obama.
In the last four presidential elections, New Mexico voted as follows:
- 2008 - 57% for Democrat Obama, 42% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 50% for Republican Bush, 49% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 48% for Republican Bush, 48% for Democrat Gore
- 1996 - 49% for Democrat Clinton, 42% for Republican Dole
Prior to his 2008 election to the Senate, Democrat Udall was a five-term Congressman from New Mexico, and the former state Attorney General for eight years. Sen. Udall is an avid supporter of wilderness areas and wildlife, and has been consistently awarded a 100% rating by the League of Conservation Voters.
Summary of Top Issues in New Mexico
New Mexico residents enjoy much lower unemployment and foreclosure rates than the national averages, although both remain relevant influences on Land of Enchantment voters.
About 46% of New Mexico residents claimed Hispanic ethnicity in the 2010 census, the highest state percentage and far ahead of California and Texas at 37.6% each. Spanish is the primary spoken-language of 29% of New Mexicans.
As a result, immigration reform is a top New Mexico concern, especially support by most Republican presidential candidates of an armed, U.S.-Mexico border fence. However, the nation's Hispanic population is also deeply disappointed by President Obama's failure to actively support or enact reform of immigration laws.
Another top issue is healthcare coverage. From 2005 through 2011, approximately 21% of New Mexico residents had no health care insurance, including 23% of Hispanics and 28% of Native-Americans. Republicans candidates for both the White House and Congress have pledged to repeal President Obama's reform of healthcare that provides insurances to all U.S. citizens and legal residents.
Since New Mexico ranks only 31st among states in senior citizen population, Social Security and Medicare reductions pushed by Republicans are not major issues among the electorate.
Because New Mexicans hold deep reverence for their state's majestic natural beauty, conservation and preservation of the environment are important statewide values. Raves a state government website, "New Mexico is home to 25 magnificent scenic byways. In fact, eight of the 126 America's Byways are right here in our state!"
Most New Mexico political leaders, both Democratic and Republican, support pro-environment legislation and agendas.
New Mexico Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - 6.8%, well below the national unemployment rate and 38th among all states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - 1 in 1254 homes, significantly lower than the state average of 1 of 583 home in foreclosure, and 29th among states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 17.1%, which is 5th highest among all states, and concentrated in New Mexico's Native-American population.
Hispanic Population - 46.3% of New Mexico residents are of Hispanic origin, the nation's highest state Hispanic population percentage.
Labor Union Membership - New Mexico is home to 94,000 labor union members, representing 11.6% of the state's workforce.
Senior Citizen Population - 13.2% of New Mexico's total population, ranking 31st among states.
Women as a Percentage of New Mexico's Population - 50.6%, which is 29th in the nation.
African-American Population - 2% of New Mexico's resident population, ranking 39th among states, tied with Hawaii and Oregon.