The new State of New Mexico Poll conducted by Latino Decisions provides fresh data on the attitudes of registered voters in New Mexico regarding some of the most important policy issues facing the state. For example, the survey polled registered voters in New Mexico views toward multiple policies aimed at increasing civic engagement, a salient topic in the state that has seen a significant drop in turnout.
In March, 2015 Oregon became the first state to automatically register any eligible voter with a driver’s license. California followed Oregon to become the second state to automatically register voters later in the year. Other states have implemented same day voter registration, online voter registration, and other policies aimed to make voter registration more accessible to their electorates, recognizing that this increases engagement among citizens. Given the low turnout rates across recent state and local elections, the survey asked respondents for their views on some of these policies.
- Automatic registration generates the greatest support among New Mexicans with a robust 67% of respondents supporting anyone eligible to vote being automatically registered when they go in to get a state ID card or driver’s license.
- Same day registration is less popular among New Mexico registered voters, with 45% of respondents supporting eligible voters being able to register to vote on election day at their polling location. New Mexico voters must currently register to vote 28 days prior to Election Day, which is among the worst in the nation.
- Requiring eligible voters to turnout to vote or risk paying a small fine is not surprisingly the least popular, with only 20% of respondents supporting this policy.
The survey also asked respondents about their views toward Donald Trump’s statements regarding Mexican immigrants being “drug dealers, criminals and rapists”, as well as his proposals to deport all undocumented immigrants, any U.S. born children who have undocumented parents, and to build a wall across the entire U.S. Mexico border.
- A strong majority, 75% of New Mexicans (81% among Hispanic respondents), oppose Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants and his well publicized approaches to immigration policy compared to only 23% who support them.
Finally, the survey provides to our knowledge the first assessment of Governor Martinez’ approval rating since the holiday party event that many speculated would damage her image among the public.
- Governor Martinez has weathered the political storm rather well, with a 56% approving of her performance as Governor compared to 39% disapproval.
- There is variation across the state’s registered voter population however, with higher approval ratings among men (64%) and non-Hispanics (63%).
- Half of Hispanic New Mexicans (50%), and just under half of women in the state (49%) say they approve of the Governor’s job performance at this early point in the year.
Methodology Statement: Latino Decisions interviewed a random sample of 500 registered voters in New Mexico, drawn from a representative statewide file of all registered voters in the state. Surveys were conducted between January 6-12, 2016. Respondents were contacted by cell phone, landline or online. The survey was available in English or Spanish and carries a +/- 4.4% margin of error. Upon completion, the data were weighted to match the 2014 U.S. Census ACS for New Mexico.
Gabriel R. Sanchez is an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, the executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM, and director of research for Latino Decisions.