Thursday, June 30, 2005


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 30, 2005

George W. Bush might have won New Mexico’s five electoral votes last year — the Republican incumbent beat Democrat John Kerry here by less than one percentage point — but according to a statewide poll taken by a national research company earlier this month — Bush is losing the job-approval race.

And according to the same polling company, Gov. Bill Richardson’s numbers, while still favorable by a healthy margin, have slipped from last year’s poll figures.

According to the poll, released this week by the New Jersey-based Survey U.S.A., 50 percent of New Mexicans surveyed said they disapproved of the way Bush is doing his job, while 45 percent said they approved of Bush’s job.

Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff of Research & Polling Inc., said Wednesday these numbers are believable. “New Mexico usually is pretty close to the national numbers,” he said, pointing to the Real Clear Politics Web site (, which shows the average of the three recent national polls to have 50 percent disapproving of Bush’s performance and 47 percent approving.

Survey U.S.A.’s poll was conducted June 10 to 12. Six hundred New Mexico residents were randomly called to participate in an automated phone poll. The margin of error is 4.1 percent. Similar polls were conducted in all 50 states.

Rating the governors: Early last month, Survey U.S.A. did polling in all 50 states on how residents rated their governors.

According to that project, our Gov. Bill Richardson is the 20th most popular governor in the union.

Asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bill Richardson is doing as governor?” 54 percent said they approved while 39 percent said they disapproved.

While these are good numbers for the gov, if this poll is accurate, it shows a slide from the numbers Sanderoff got last in a poll he did in late August and early September for The Albuquerque Journal. That poll showed 63 percent giving Richardson a favorable rating while 25 percent said their opinion was unfavorable.

“I don’t know if there’s been a change in attitude or a methodological difference,” Sanderoff said.

Sanderoff said he is wary of polling outfits that use automated systems to gather opinions instead of live callers. He also noted that his company calls likely voters who have voted in recent elections, while Survey U.S.A. calls random numbers.

Another possible factor in the big shift in Richardson numbers, Sanderoff said, is the fact that Survey U.S.A. asked whether participants “approved” or “disapproved” of Richardson’s performance, while Sanderoff’s company asked if participants had “favorable” or “unfavorable” opinions of the governor.

“The favorability polls tend to be higher than approval polls,” Sanderoff said.

Sanderoff noted that the Survey U.S.A. poll was taken before Richardson “took some hits” over the $5.5 million jet his administration is buying and for a recent incident in which Richardson’s driver refused to stop for an Albuquerque police officer.

“The jet story was really the first (Richardson controversy) that has gotten to the point of water cooler talk,” he said. “Something like that probably would affect his rating by three points or so.”

The poll on Richardson was conducted May 6 through 8 of 600 New Mexicans. The margin of error is 4.1 percent.

According to Survey U.S.A., the most popular governor is North Dakota’s John Hoeven, a Republican, who is approved by 71 percent of his people. Hoeven had a 20 disapproval score. The least popular is Ohio’s Robert Taft, also a Republican, whose approval rating was a mere 19 percent and disapproval a whopping 74 percent.

Popular senators:
Survey U.S.A. also rated all 100 U.S. Senators earlier this month. Both Republican Pete Domenici and Democrat Jeff Bingaman scored high.

Domenici’s approval rating was 61 percent, just one point higher than Bingaman’s. Thirty two percent disapproved of Domenici, while 28 percent disapproved of Bingaman, who is running for re-election next year.

This poll was taken June 10 to 12 with the same number of people called and same margin of error as the company’s other polls.

Betting on Bill: So what are the odds of Richardson actually making it to the White House? According to the posted odds to one sports betting Web site Wednesday, the odds are 13 to 1.

According to the Canada-based — reportedly the first internet sportsbook in North America — Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has the best odds of winning the presidency in 2008 — 5 to 1. In second place was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, whose odds are 7 to 1. Former North Carolina Senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards has 9-to-1 odds. Richardson is fourth, while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. follows with 15-to-1 odds.

{Note: As of about 7 p.m. Wednesday, all the individual candidate bets disappeared from the SportsInteraction site. All that was left in the political section was a bet on whether Hilary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice will get the nominations of their respective parties. (The odds there are 21 to 1, which I think is way way low.) I called the helpline and a woman told me the page was just being updated and that all the candidate bets would return in a few minutes. But as of 12:01 AM Thursday, they were still missing.}

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