By Barry Massey
The Associated Press
Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Martin Heinrich each entered the final stretch of New Mexico’s Senate race with about $1 million in campaign cash, and a new poll shows Heinrich leading the contest.
According to the latest finance reports, Wilson has raised about $6.2 million since starting her campaign and Heinrich has collected nearly $5.9 million in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
The Democratic and Republican candidates reported cash-on-hand of slightly more than $1 million at the end of last month. Independent American Party candidate Jon Barrie had a balance of about $1,100 in his campaign account, debts of about $13,600 and has raised about $9,500 so far.
Heinrich is serving his second term representing the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District. Wilson held the congressional seat for five terms before running unsuccessfully in 2008 for the GOP Senate nomination.
A poll published Monday by the Albuquerque Journal found 48 percent of likely voters backing Heinrich and 39 percent supporting Wilson. Nine percent of voters were undecided and 4 percent favored Barrie. Bob Anderson of Albuquerque is a write-in candidate.
The survey of 658 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The Journal commissioned Albuquerque-based Research and Polling Inc. to do the survey.
A poll a month ago by the newspaper found 49 percent of voters backing Heinrich and 42 percent for Wilson, with 8 percent undecided. Barrie was not included in the September survey.
The latest poll showed Heinrich faring better than Wilson among independents — voters unaffiliated with any political party — and the Democrat had a nearly 3-to-1 advantage in support among Hispanics, who account for more than two-fifths of the state’s voting age population.
Brian Sanderoff, the newspaper’s pollster, said in a telephone interview on Monday that Heinrich appeared to be solidifying his support and that Wilson isn’t attracting as many Democratic voters as she did in her successful congressional races.
Only 10 percent of Democrats backed Wilson, according to the poll.
However, Wilson’s campaign is airing a television ad to try to change that.
Several women in the ad offer testimonials in support of Wilson and at the end identify themselves as Democrats.
In New Mexico, Democrats hold a 1.5-to-1 advantage in voter registration over Republicans.
The Journal published a poll on Sunday that showed President Barack Obama leading Republican Mitt Romney in New Mexico. Obama was backed by 49 percent of likely voters to 39 percent for Romney and 6 percent for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee who was a Republican when he served as governor in 1995-2002. Five percent of voters were undecided.