Is New Mexico reverting from purple to blue?

While the national election largely went in favor of Republicans, New Mexico reverted back towards Democratic control of the Legislature. With the exception of a few years of slight Republican majorities in the Senate during the 1980s, Democrats have had an iron-lock on the Legislature since 1954.

So, now that Democrats have re-taken the House, will we see another 52 years of Democrats controlling the Roundhouse? Good question.  The following chart from Rob Nikolewski, formerly the New Mexico Watchdog, would seem to indicate that Democrats are continuing to lose registration while Republicans are holding steady and DTS are growing.

NM rise of independent voters graph from brian sanderoff

If voting patterns hold along those lines, Republicans in New Mexico should not fret. They will remain competitive and possibly become more competitive in the future. However, there has long been anecdotal evidence for the registered Democrat who sometimes or always votes for Republicans. Perhaps that dynamic is changing? It is hard to say.

There is no doubt that Republicans in New Mexico face uphill battles to get into and remain in office. It has certainly not reached the point of irrelevance as has California’s GOP.

What we do know is that Republican Mayor RJ Berry will likely be replaced by a Democrat in 2017 (Republicans have a big challenge due to changes in the runoff process alone, let alone Berry’s policies). And, in 2018, the Republicans will have to pick up three seats in order to create a tie in the House in an off-year election. And then there is the race for Governor. If Tom Udall runs as is widely speculated, he will be very difficult for the GOP to defeat.

In summary, while the party registration data seem to be moving in their direction, the political situation on the ground is quickly moving in the other direction.