Another Democratic incumbent trailing in the polls 

Add New Mexico to the list of states (Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota) where polling has shown Democratic incumbents behind Republican challengers. The Democratic polling firm PPP shows New Mexico 2nd district Democrat Harry Teague trailing Republican Steve Pearce by a 43%-41% margin. That’s insignificant statistically but, in my view, significant politically, because incumbents usually do not trail challengers and can usually be expected to top 50% in polling; after all, every House member has won an election less than two years before the poll was taken. Teague carried the 2nd district 56%-44% 15 months ago. There’s a mitigating factor here: Pearce was the incumbent in this district from 2002 to 2008, and in the Democratic year of 2006 won reelection by a 59%-40% margin against a low-spending Democrat. In 2008 he ran for the Senate and lost 61%-39% to Democrat Tom Udall, and in that contest failed to carry the 2nd district.

Obviously the political climate has changed markedly in New Mexico in the last 15 months, and while Teague may still end up holding the district he is certainly in far weaker condition than he was in November 2008. New Mexico was one of the success stories of the Obama campaign in 2008; one of the closest states in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections went Democratic by a 57%-42% margin. New Mexico, like most of America, doesn’t look as Democratic now.

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Michael Barone

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