Keller leads, but runoff al­most cer­tain

One-third un­de­cided; Colón, Lewis neck and neck for 2nd


With only about two weeks left be­fore Elec­tion Day, state Au­di­tor Tim Keller has a com­fort­able lead in the Al­bu­querque may­oral race, but it likely won’t be enough to avoid a runoff, ac­cord­ing to a Jour­nal Poll.

Nearly a third of likely vot­ers con­tacted have yet to make up their minds.

Keller, a Demo­crat and one of eight can­di­dates on the may­oral bal­lot, had sup­port from 25 per­cent of likely vot­ers in the tele­phone sur­vey, con­ducted Sept. 11-14.

At­tor­ney Brian Colón, a for­mer chair­man of the state Demo­cratic Party, and City Coun­cilor Dan Lewis, a Repub­li­can, were run­ning neck and neck. Colón had sup­port from 14 per­cent, and Lewis had 13 per­cent. Round­ing out the top four was Ber­nalillo County Com­mis­sioner Wayne John­son, a Repub­li­can, who was fa­vored by 7 per­cent of likely vot­ers.

The four re­main­ing can­di­dates each polled at 4 per­cent or be­low.

An ad­di­tional 4 per­cent of vot­ers are lean­ing to­ward vot­ing for Keller, 5 per­cent for Colón, and 3 per­cent each for Lewis and John­son.

“The bot­tom line is we still have nearly one-third of the peo­ple who are un­de­cided, and I think the out­come of the race is still up in the air,” said Brian San­deroff, pres­i­dent of Re­search & Polling Inc., the firm that con­ducted the sci­en­tific sur­vey. “A lot will de­pend on the strate­gies of the se­cond-tier can­di­dates and who they de­cide to at­tack in neg­a­tive cam­paign­ing.”

This is the first time in 20 years that an in­cum­bent isn’t on the may­oral bal­lot. If no can­di­date re­ceives 50 per­cent of the vote on Oct. 3, the two who have the high­est vote counts will ad­vance to a runoff elec­tion in Novem­ber.

Al­bu­querque mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are non­par­ti­san, mean­ing a can­di­date’s party af­fil­i­a­tion won’t ap­pear on the bal­lot. Nev­er­the­less, the poll shows that party af­fil­i­a­tion is play­ing a role in this elec­tion, and that is work­ing in the fa­vor of Democrats, who make up 46 per­cent of reg­is­tered city vot­ers. Repub­li­cans are 30 per­cent, and in­de­pen­dents and oth­ers rep­re­sent 24 per­cent of the city elec­torate. Repub­li­cans and Democrats, how­ever, are more likely to vote in city elec­tions, which is ref lected in the de­mo­graphic com­po­si­tion of the poll, San­deroff said.

Among likely Demo­cratic vot­ers, 38 per­cent sup­ported Keller, 18 per­cent Colón, 2 per­cent planned to vote for Lewis and 1 per­cent for John­son. Con­versely, among likely Repub­li­can vot­ers, 26 per­cent sup­ported Lewis, 16 per­cent sup­ported John­son, 12 per­cent Colón and 8 per­cent Keller.

Keller, mean­while, per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally well among likely vot­ers with grad­u­ate de­grees, with 40 per­cent of them sup­port­ing him.

The poll also shows that Keller is do­ing least well in the far North­east Heights and do­ing best in Demo­cratic strong­hold ar­eas such as the North Val­ley and Down­town.

Colón was do­ing well among likely His­panic vot­ers, gar­ner­ing sup­port from a quar­ter of them. And San­deroff noted that he had sup­port from both Democrats and Repub­li­cans.

“A lot of peo­ple sup­port Colón be­cause they’re im­pressed with his hum­ble be­gin­nings and his pulling him­self up from the boot­straps story,” San­deroff said.

San­deroff said the elec­tion likely hinges on the strate­gies the cam­paigns de­cide to em­ploy from here on out.

“Will the Repub­li­can strat­egy be to pound Tim Keller, who you might drop from first place to se­cond place, but the odds are it would be hard to get him out of first or se­cond place, or maybe the strat­egy will change where Repub­li­cans might go af­ter Brian Colón to try to take that se­cond po­si­tion?” San­deroff said. “… What this race is all about is keep­ing any­body un­der 50 per­cent so there will be a runoff.”

The top four can­di­dates still have plenty of cash in their cam­paign war chests.

Keller, the only pub­licly fi­nanced can­di­date in the may­oral race, re­ceived nearly $343,000 in city funds to run his cam­paign. He had about $118,000 left in the bank as of Sept. 7. A po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tee dubbed ABQ For­ward To­gether that formed to help get Keller elected had al­ready raised $209,000 and still had $174,000 in the bank.

An­other com­mit­tee, called Make Al­bu­querque Safe, how­ever, has al­ready launched at­tack ads against Keller, but his cam­paign came out swing­ing and victim ad­vo­cates ral­lied be­hind him.

Colón, mean­while, has al­ready raised more than $750,000 for his may­oral run and had $219,000 in the bank as of Sept. 7. Lewis had $194,000 in the bank, while John­son had $219,000.

For the sur­vey, 516 likely vot­ers were asked: “If the elec­tion for mayor of Al­bu­querque were held to­day and the can­di­dates were Ri­cardo Chaves, Brian Colón, Michelle Gar­cia Holmes, Wayne John­son, Ti­mothy Keller, Dan Lewis, Gus Pe­drotty and Su­san Wheeler-De­ich­sel whom would you vote for?” The or­der of the can­di­dates was ran­dom­ized.

Gar­cia Holmes, a re­tired de­tec­tive and for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral chief of staff, was fa­vored by 4 per­cent of likely vot­ers. Pe­drotty, a Demo­crat and re­cent Univer­sity of New Mex­ico grad­u­ate, had sup­port from 3 per­cent; busi­ness­man Ri­cardo Chaves, a Repub­li­can, and Wheeler-De­ich­sel, co-founder of Ur­ban ABQ, were each polling at 1 per­cent. Gar­cia Holmes and Wheeler-De­ich­sel are both in­de­pen­dents.

Chaves, who lent his cam­paign more than $500,000, still had just un­der $300,000 cash on hand.

“Ri­cardo Chaves has lots of money, but he hasn’t caught on among the vot­ers,” San­deroff said.

He also noted that while Pe­drotty has sup­port from only 3 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers, he’s polling at 11 per­cent among 18- to 34-year olds.

The Jour­nal Poll is based on a city­wide sam­ple of vot­ers who said they planned to vote this year, and voted in the 2013 reg­u­lar mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, the late-term abor­tion mea­sure spe­cial elec­tion, or the 2015 reg­u­lar mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

The poll has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 4.3 per­cent­age points.

All in­ter­views were con­ducted by live, pro­fes­sional in­ter­view­ers, with mul­ti­ple call­backs to house­holds that did not ini­tially an­swer the phone.

Both cell­phone num­bers (44 per­cent) and land­lines (56 per­cent) of proven mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion vot­ers were used. San­deroff said that’s sig­nif­i­cant be­cause half of U.S. house­holds don’t have land­lines. If calls to cell­phones had been ex­cluded, Keller’s lead over Colón would have nar­rowed sig­nif­i­cantly.

San­deroff said that’s prob­a­bly be­cause younger peo­ple tend to only have cell­phones. And, he said, cer­tain types of peo­ple are less likely to have land­lines, and those peo­ple may be more likely to sup­port a lib­eral Demo­crat.

Tim Keller 25%

Brian Colón 14%

Dan Lewis 13%

Wayne John­son 7%

Un­de­cided 32%

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