Those Damn Polls And Damn Attack Ads

The race for Albuquerque Mayor is getting red hot with many things happening including a television forum, the release of highly negative attack ads against the front runner and the Albuquerque Journal poll.

Early voting in the municipal election began on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

If no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, a runoff is scheduled for November 16, 2017.


Low poll numbers usually result in candidacies imploding and impact fund raising by the candidates with donors reluctant to donate to candidates perceived as losing.

Polls are a real scourge to the election process and have an undue influence on the democratic process but they are here to stay and cannot be ignored.

Polls tend to be self-fulfilling prophesies.


On Sunday, September 17, 2017, the Albuquerque Journal was right on time with its long-anticipated poll by well-known pollster Brain Sanderoff with Research & Polling.
(See September 17,2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “Journal poll: Keller leads, but runoff almost certain”)

Years ago, Research and Polling use to do political polls for candidates, but now almost exclusively works for the Albuquerque Journal.

Research & Polling has an extensive history of being the most reliable predictor of elections in New Mexico.

Following are the results of the Albuquerque Journal poll:

• Democrat first term New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller – 25%
• Former state Democratic Party Chairman and private attorney Brian Colón – 14%
• Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis – 13%
• Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – 7%
• Independent Michelle Garcia Holmes, a retired Albuquerque police detective – 4%
• Democrat Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty, recent UNM graduate – 3%
• Republican Ricardo Chaves and founder of Parking Company of America – 1%
• Independent Susan Wheeler-Deichsel and founder of the civic group Urban ABQ – 1%

The biggest winner in the Journal poll, as with two previous polls, was “undecided” at 32% or one third of those polled still being undecided with a little over two weeks remaining before the October 3 election.

The Journal poll data reported that Tim Keller and Brian Colon are splitting the Democrat vote with Keller at 38% and Colon at 18% of Democrats polled and with Keller and Colon splitting the Hispanics polled with Colon at 25% and Keller at 22%.

Keller is doing better than all the other candidates with Independents polling with 25% of Independents polled and followed by Dan Lewis at 17% of Independents polled.

Following is a breakdown of the Albuquerque Journal polling data:

Keller’s 25% is comprised of 38% of the Democrats polled, 25% of Independents polled and 8% of Republicans polled with 22% of all those polling for Keller being Hispanic and 27% being Anglo.

Colon’s 14% is comprised of 18% of the Democrats polled, 12% of the Republicans polled, 9% of the Independents polled with 25% of all those polling for Colon being Hispanic and 10% being Anglo.

Dan Lewis’ 13% is comprised of 26% of Republicans polled, 17% of Independents polled and only 2% of the Democrats polled with 11% of all those polling for Lewis being Hispanic and 14% of those polled being Anglo.

Wayne Johnson’s 7% is comprised of 16% of the Republicans polled, 3% of Independents polled and only 1% of the Democrats polled with 3% of all those polling for Johnson being Hispanic and 9% of those polled being Anglo.

The biggest problem with the Albuquerque Journal poll is that it was taken September 11 to 14, a time when all the television and radio commercials where starting to kick in, negative attack ads were being run against front runner Tim Keller and there was a televised forum that occurred on September 15 on Channel 4 during prime time.

An analysis of the remaining candidates poll performance is difficult to gage given that all four polled below 5%.

It is difficult for any candidate to recover from low poll numbers and polls usually become self-fulfilling prophecies, unless you are Donald Trump, and I suspect Garcia Holmes, Pedrotty, Wheeler Diechel and Chavez will continue to poll at 5% or below each up and until election day.


On September 5, 2017 KRQE reported the first poll in the 2017 Mayor’s race.

The KRQE poll was one of 500 likely registered voters conducted by automatic phone calls with a margin of error of 5% which reduces accuracy.

The KRQE poll was taken before any of the candidates began to spend on radio and tv commercials.

KRQE reported each of the candidates polled as follows:

Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller – 22%
Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis – 11%
Former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon – 10%
Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – 8%
Independent retired APD Police Officer Michell Garcia-Holmes – 6%
Republican businessman Ricardo Chavez – 5%
Democrat Gus Pedrotty – 1%
Independent Susan Wheeler Diechel – 1%

The biggest winner in the KRQE poll, as with the two subsequent polls, was “undecided” at 36% or over one third of those polled still being undecided with the poll taken four weeks before the election.


On September 8, 2017 KOB reported a second poll.

The poll was conducted by Carol Strategies on September 3, 4, and 5, 2017.

The poll was one of 513 likely registered voters conducted by automatic phone calls with a margin of error of 4.3%.

KOB reported each of the candidates polled as follows:

Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller – 22.6%
Former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon – 19.3%
Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis – 7.8%
Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – 7.8%
Independent retired APD Police Officer Michell Garcia-Holmes – 5.8%
Republican businessman Ricardo Chavez – 3.5%
Democrat Gus Pedrotty – 1.9%
Independent Susan Wheeler Diechel – 1.8%

The biggest winner in the KOB poll was again “undecided” at 30% as compared to the 36% of undecided in the KRQE poll reported just one day earlier and the Journal poll at 32%.


From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout.

The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older, conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans, and were the voters likely polled by the three polls taken.

Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977 and I suspect that this year the voter turnout will be between 22% and 25%.

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, unlike the “late term abortion” initiative four years ago that was placed on the “runoff” ballot and not with the Mayor’s race in order to favor the incumbent who supported the late term abortion issue.

The Albuquerque Journal poll taken at the same time as its poll for Mayor 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.

Democrats Keller and Colon have both said they support the mandatory sick leave ordinance, while Republicans Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson say they oppose it.

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 have been predicting a runoff will occur 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 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.

What Tim Keller needs to be concerned about at this point 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 and the committee has started to run 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 be the reason he will be in the runoff.

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 a runoff.

Republicans are far more likely to vote for Brian Colon over the more Progressive Tim Keller in a runoff, presuming they vote.

Based on all three of the polls, a runoff is extremely likely, with Tim Keller facing off with either Brian Colon or Dan Lewis.

I suspect that Progressive Tim Keller would win a runoff with conservative Republican Dan Lewis.

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.

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 go after Brian Colon.

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.


On the very first day of early voting, negative TV and radio attack ads began running against front runner Tim Keller.

The Albuquerque Journal was right on que with a news article reporting the TV and radio attack ads with early voting having begun two days before.
(See September 15, 2017 Albuquerque Journal “Ad attacks Keller vote on sex offenders; Mayoral candidate denies bill he supported protects abusers”

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 Senate Bill that Keller voted for would have prohibited local governments from adopting rules or laws restricting where sex offenders could live but would have allowed distance restrictions for a registered sex offender’s residence as a condition of probation or parole.

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office favored the bill arguing that failing to pass it would result in local governments adopting exclusionary zones and other restrictions that could subject municipalities to legal challenges.

The Sex Offender Management Board, responsible for making recommendations to the state Sentencing Commission for managing and treating sex offenders, supported the Senate bill.

The attack ads make the inflammatory accusation that Keller chose to protect “sex offenders over our children”.

The attack ads go on to make the extremely inflammatory and downright false accusation that Keller was “not only against keeping child molesters from living close to schools and parks, but Tim Keller wanted to make Albuquerque a safe haven to attract child molesters from around the country.”

The TV commercial uses dark and sinister images of a child with an adult having a hand over the child’s mouth as if being abducted.

The radio commercials describe Mr. Keller as a liberal elitist living in a $600,000 country club home.

What the hell?

The ads are deceitful and manipulative and they are smearing a qualified candidate.

No way does the two-page Senate Bill even come close to supporting such inflammatory accusations and the ads are a pack of lies and are a total crock of excrement.

A measure finance committee called “Make Albuquerque Safe” paid for the ads and the chairwoman of the committee is Denis Romero and the treasurer is Donna Taylor.

What is disgusting is no one will know who paid for the ads until the next finance reports come out on September 22, 2017.

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 I suspect the commercials will affect Independent voters and Republican voters and more conservative, traditional Democratic voters.


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.

The wild card in this election “House of Cards” is the considerable amount of money sources are saying is being raised and that is now be spent to run highly negative ads.

People constantly condemn negative and highly inflammatory political advertising and polls, but the cold hard reality is that people believe the ads, they affect the polls and the ads work.

Candidates on the receiving end of attack ads affecting poll standings find themselves using precious resources to defend themselves against lies such as the ads against Tim Keller.

The TV and radio ads I fear are only the beginning of more to come, not only against Keller but Brian Colon and Dan Lewis.

Even with only two weeks 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 16, 2017.

Whoever become Mayor will have the privilege and honor to deal with a police department and an economy that are akin to backed upped sewer lines, the work 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.

And people wonder why I did not run for Mayor even though I wanted the job four years ago?

Life after city hall is good!

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.