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Same Old Story

How about a stroll down memory lane? It was the summer of 2004. The Democratic polls for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional district were out, and…

State Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero (D) is in a statistical dead heat in his quest to unseat four-term Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional district, according to a poll released by the Democratic challenger’s campaign last week.

The 600-sample survey, conducted July 22-26 by Bob Meadow and Steven Van Tassell of Decision Research, showed Wilson leading Romero 49 percent to 45 percent among likely general election voters. The poll had a 4 percent margin of error.

The findings also showed Wilson’s re-elect numbers declining slightly from 44 percent in June to 42 percent in July, while Romero’s favorables had increased by 4 points to 42 percent.

Now compare that to the analysis of Madrid’s latest poll by Democracy for New Mexico:

The district-wide phone survey of 400 likely voters conducted by Lake Research Partners between August 17-20, 2006 shows Madrid at 44% and Wilson at 46% — within the poll’s margin of error. It’s a political rule of thumb that incumbent candidates are in deep trouble if their support is under 50%, as Wilson’s is in this poll.

Let’s consider that “political rule of thumb,” shall we? At this same time in 2004, Heather Wilson was under that “deep trouble” marker of 50%. Worse yet, this was the news of the day a month before election day:

[Richard Romero’s] new-found strategy is working, too-a new Albequerque Journal Poll has the race a dead heat: Wilson 45, Romero 44. This is a closer margin than last month, when Wilson led by a 49-43 margin. As a result, Romero now has a great shot at winning this seat.

Think about that. With less than four weeks until the election, Richard Romero was within one point of Heather Wilson, and Heather had supposedly lost another four points in just thirty days.

You do remember how that election turned out, don’t you? Heather won with a comfortable 10 point lead. The same thing that had happened two years earlier. Will these people never learn?

If I were in Patricia Madrid’s camp, I don’t think I’d be touting results that show me in the same position as Richard Romero. Nope, I’d be pretty darn worried. In a few weeks, the Albuquerque Journal is going to release their poll, and if Madrid is not leading Heather, you can bet on a repeat of the 2004 and 2002 elections to occur in 2006.