From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout.
If none of the eight (8) candidates for Mayor secures 50% or more of the vote on October 3, 2017, a runoff will be held between the two top vote getters.
The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older, conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans with Independents also tending to be more conservative.
Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977.
Many insiders are predicting another low voter turnout of around 22% despite the number of candidates in the race.
Early voting tallies are indicating another low voter turnout election.
Four (4) years ago, the “late term abortion” initiative was placed on the “runoff” ballot and not with the Mayor’s race so it would not be affected and to favor the incumbent who openly supported the late term abortion initiative.
Other facts that affected voter turnout four (4) years ago was that the Republican controlled City Council approved the City Clerk setting up voting booths at the major evangelical churches but excluded all voting polls at the University of New Mexico, with such tactic favoring the Republican incumbent.
What may increase voter turnout is that the Healthy Workforce or mandatory sick leave ordinance that will be on the first ballot along with the Mayor’s race and voting locations have also changed.
The Albuquerque Journal poll revealed that 53% of those polled support the mandatory sick leave ordnance, 31% oppose it while 16% are undecided and that support of the ordinance is strongest amongst Democrats, younger voters and Hispanics.
The increase in the minimum wage ordinance that was voted upon over six years ago passed with 70% of the vote and had far more support than the Healthy Workforce ordinance.
The opposition to the Healthy Workforce ordinance is far more organized and will be spending upwards of $100,000 to defeat the ordinance which is like what happened in Santa Fe to defeat the soda tax.
Those supporting the mandatory sick leave ordinance have also organized and have raised approximately $60,000.
Supporters of the mandatory sick leave ordinance have been sending out mailers promoting the enactment of the ordinance.
Of the four (4) front runners for Mayor, Democrats Tim Keller and Brian Colon have said they support the mandatory sick leave ordinance while Republicans Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson say they oppose it.
Republican Wayne Johnson has been very vocal about his opposition to the mandatory sick leave ordinance to the point he attended a court hearing to keep it off the ballot to pander to the business coalition that is opposing the ordinance.
With respect to the polls taken in the race for Mayor, all three polls show at least one third of voters have not made up their mind with the Journal poll reflecting 32% undecided, the KRQE poll reflecting 36% undecided and the KOB poll reflecting 30% undecided averaging out to 32.6% undecided for the three polls.
For many months, political pundits and insiders were predicting a runoff between Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis and first term Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller.
Before any of the polling done by the local news organizations, many political pundits and insiders were suggesting Mr. Keller had at least 30% to 35% or more being reflected in private campaign polling given his high name recognition as State Auditor, his very considerable support within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, his endorsements and the substantial union contributions to his measured finance committee or PAC.
One Keller insider went as far as to say the Keller campaign was so confident of their organization because they secured public finance, that there was a chance, albeit a slim one, that Keller could avoid a runoff and secure 50% of the vote.
Before any of the polling by news organization, many political pundits and insiders were suggesting that City Councilor Dan Lewis has a solid 22% to 25% percent being reflected in private polling given his name recognition, his news coverage as a City Councilor, his opposition to the controversial ART bus project, his substantial support within the Christian Evangelical community, his opposition to the mandatory sick leave ordinance and his support within the Republican Party establishment that would assist raising significant amounts of money as was done four years ago for Mayor Berry.
Tim Keller and Dan Lewis have not performed as well as what was being said privately a few months ago during the petition gathering period and the public finance qualifying period.
The news agency polls reflect a very tight race for a second-place finish.
In all three polls made by news agencies, Brian Colon has come in second to front runner Tim Keller.
Brian Colon ran neck and neck for second place with Dan Lewis in the Journal and KRQE poll, while surging beyond Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson in the KOB poll.
Keller’s poll numbers in the Journal poll at 25%, the KOB poll at 22.6% and the KRQE poll number at 22% are all so very close percentage wise as to be indistinguishable, with Keller having an average of 23.2% for the three polls.
An average of 23.2% for all three polls is an indication that Mr. Keller may have peaked and may not do any better in a runoff.
Brian Colon’s poll numbers reflect actual movement in the Journal poll at 14%, the KRQE poll at 10% and the KOB poll at 19.3% with an average of 11.1%.
The zig zag of movement in the Colon poll numbers is easily explained by the Journal poll including both land line and cell phones, with the other two being land lines, but what is accurate is that all three polls have a margin of error of 4% to 5% with Colon showing movement.
Brian Colon, unlike Tim Keller, started out with even lower polling numbers in campaign polls taken by insiders a few months ago and not made public like the news agency polls.
Brian Colon and Dan Lewis are battling out for a second-place finish to get in a runoff with Keller, with both Colon and Lewis showing momentum in the race while Keller appears to be stagnant.
Brian Colon has spent upwards of $400,000 for television ads not to mention mailers that started to hit the homes of likely registered voters.
What Tim Keller needs to be concerned about is that he may have “peaked” with any further increase in his poll numbers stymied by his reduced funding as a “public financed” candidate and an inability to get his message out with television commercials, not to mention the negative attack ads against Mr. Keller.
A wild card is that the measured fiancé committee ALB Forward, chaired by one of Mr. Keller’s former campaign managers, has raised $170,000.
ALB Forward is running positive ads which are slick and impressive for Mr. Keller, but the positive ads may not be enough to offset the attack ads against Keller.
Tim Keller is very popular in the progressive wing of the Democratic party, which will probably ensure that he will be in the runoff.
As the former Democratic Party State Chairman, Brian Colon is also popular in the Democratic party, he is Hispanic and he has support within the more conservative and traditional wing of the Democratic Party and Republican business community which will be more inclined to support Colon over Keller in any runoff.
Republicans, presuming they vote if no Republican gets in the runoff, are far more likely to vote for Brian Colon over the more Progressive Tim Keller in a runoff.
At this point, a runoff is extremely likely, with Tim Keller facing off with either Brian Colon or Dan Lewis.
Progressive Tim Keller is more than likely to win a runoff with conservative Republican Dan Lewis given the fact that Albuquerque has become more Democratic over the last election cycles having elected Democrats to congress.
However, Mr. Keller will have a much harder time winning a run off with Brian Colon in that Mr. Colon is Hispanic, he has a wider appeal to the Republican business community and he is making a respectable showing with Independents.
To further complicate things for Tim Keller in a runoff with Brian Colon is the hard core conservative Republicans who vote for Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson.
Likely Lewis and Johnson voters are those who voted for Donald Trump and they are far less likely to vote someone who is as Progressive as Tim Keller and if they do vote in the runoff they will vote for Brian Colon, the moderate Democrat.
The state Republican Party see Tim Keller as a real threat in the future to the point they have filed ethics charges to assail Keller’s in kind cash donations in order to tarnish his reputation.
Another tactic being used to tarnish Keller are the negative ads being run regarding Keller’s vote on a Senate Bill claiming it favors sex offenders.
At this point in time, Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson are desperate to get in the runoff and their choice is to go negative on each other and maybe go after Brian Colon.
Early on, the Republican Party to no avail had a high level meeting with Lewis and Johnson to keep one of them out of the race.
Dan Lewis has been making last minute appeals to the hard core Republican base in emails saying that he is the only Republican that can win against the “liberal” democrats Keller and Colon who appear likely to be in a runoff.
Wayne Johnson is sending out mailers and identifying himself as being Republican while he continues his attacks of Dan Lewis on FACEBOOK and at forums.
A muddy path for Lewis is to attack Wayne Johnson but he will need to attack Colon to get his support down.
Wayne Johnson will continue his shots at Dan Lewis and will start in on Colon to keep Colon out of the runoff.
Johnson has made inroads into securing more Republican and conservative support with his aggressive and vocal opposition to “sanctuary city”, his opposition to the mandatory sick leave ordinance, his pandering to the business community and the service industry and construction industry with his strong opposition to the mandatory sick leave ordinance.
The TV and radio attack ads against Keller are hard hitting and bring up a Senate bill then State Senator Tim Keller voted in favor for in 2011, with the bill failing on a 16 to 20 vote against.
The TV and radios ads will probably have no impact on Mr. Keller’s core and very loyal progressive constituency reflected in his 23.3% average poll numbers, but the commercials just may affect Independent voters and Republican voters and more conservative, traditional Democratic voters.
The current trajectory of the Mayor’s race by all indications is that Democrats Tim Keller and Brian Colon will be in the runoff together with no Republican making it.
As the saying goes “a week in politics is an eternity”.
Political television ads, especially negative ads, can affect poll numbers and the outcome of the race.
Even with only a little over one week remaining, just about anything can happen.
What is for sure there will be a runoff and we can all look forward to another six full weeks of the two top vote getters bashing the hell out of each other until the runoff which is scheduled for November 14, 2017.
Whoever becomes Mayor will have the privilege and honor to deal with a police department and an economy that are akin to backed upped sewer lines.
There is no doubt the work on APD and our economy can be done, but you sure going to smell after four (4) years in office if you do it right to get things flowing in the right direction.