Albuquerque Journal Poll Released In Governor’s Race: Governor Lujan Grisham 47%, Mark Ronchetti 40%, Undecided 5%, Libertarian 5%; Two Months Is An Eternity In Politics; Expect McCleskey Hit Pieces Against Lujan Grisham

On Sunday, August 28, the Albuquerque Journal released it first poll in the 2022 Governor’s race between Democrat Incumbent Michell Lujan Grisham and Republican TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti.  The poll was conducted by Research and Polling which for decades has done all political polling for the Journal and with polling firm considered the gold standard in New Mexico political polling because of its consistent accuracy.

“The Journal Poll was based on a scientific, statewide sample of 518 voters who cast ballots in the 2018 and/or 2020 general election and who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 through Aug. 25. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.”

The link to the full quoted Albuquerque Journal article is here;


The poll asked the question “If the election for Governor were held today, who would you vote for? “ The results reported are:

Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham: 47%

Republican Mark Ronchetti: 40%

Libertarian Karen Bedoni: 5%


The demographics of the poll for each candidate were broken down as follows:



44% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

43% for Republican Ronchetti

3% for Libertarian Bedonie


50% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

36% for Republican Ronchetti

3% for Libertarian Bedonie



56% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

32% for Republican Ronchetti

4% for Libertarian Bedonie


42% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

46% for Republican Ronchetti

6% for Libertarian Bedonie


High school graduate:

47% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

44% for Republican Ronchetti

5% for Libertarian Bedonie

Some College or Associate Degree

40% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

44% for Republican Ronchetti

5% for Libertarian Bedonie

College Graduate

51% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

33% for Republican Ronchetti

6% for Libertarian Bedonie

Graduate Degree

58% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

32% for Republican Ronchetti

4% for Libertarian Bedonie



82% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

9% for Republican Ronchetti

2% for Libertarian Bedonie


7% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

84% for Republican Ronchetti

3% for Libertarian Bedonie


35% for Democrat Lujan Grisham

30% for Republican Ronchetti

14% for Libertarian Bedonie


According to the campaign financial reports filed with the New Mexico secretary of State, Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti have both raised and are spending significant amounts of money for their campaigns. As of last month, Lujan Grisham had more than $2.7 million in her reelection account, compared to about $1.4 million in Ronchetti’s account.  However, Ronchetti outraised Lujan Grisham during monthlong period that started before the June primary.


There are six major take ways that can be gleaned from the Alburquerque Journal Poll:


Governor Lujan Grisham was elected to her first term as governor in 2018.  She defeated former Republican Congressman Steve Pearce decisively when she received 57% of the vote compared to 43% for Pearce.  The election had an all-time voter turnout of upwards of nearly 700,000 votes cast.  Things have changed for Lujan Grisham and she is faced with a more difficult election.

Governor Lujan has yet to achieve the magic number of 51% that will ensure her reelection. Notwithstanding, with two full months left in the race, she is very much in striking distance and will only have to close a 3% gap.  Ronchetti on the other hand has a staggering 10% gap to close when there is only 8% undecided. Ronchetti will have to convince the 8% undecided to vote for him as well as convince at least 2% of the Governor’s support to change their support for her.


Both candidates have the overwhelming support from their individual parties.   Lujan Grisham has 82% support from the Democrats while Ronchetti has 84% support of Republicans.  The problem for Ronchetti and the advantage for Lujan Grisham is the desperate number of Democrats to Republicans in New Mexico. With 20% of independent voters surveyed saying they are still undecided, both candidates will now likely concentrate on the independent voters to secure a win.

The significance of the Independent voters cannot be overstated in that they represent 22.5% of all registered voters in the state. According to New Mexico Voter Registration Statistics from the New Mexico Secretary of State, as of January 31, 2022, there are a total of 1,342,690 registered voters in the state.  The breakdown is as follow

Registered Democrats: 599,242, or 44.6 %,

Registered Republicans: 414,067 or  30.8 %,

No Party or Independents:  301,598 or 22.5 %

Registered Libertarian:  13,644  or 1.0 %

Other Registrations:  14,139 or 1.1 %

The link to the Secretary of State spreadsheet on voter registration is here:


Republican Mark Ronchetti has a very serious gender gap problem that will be difficult to overcome. Both Lujan Grisham and Ronchetti enjoy essentially equal support among men, with Lujan Grisham having 44% support among men and Ronchetti having 43% among men. However, Lujan Grisham enjoys 50% support among woman and Republican Ronchetti has only 36% among women.  Abortion and woman’s reproductive rights have become the defining issue in the race for Governor.  Ronchetti’s anemic support among woman is attributed to his support to abolish all reproductive rights for woman and to start with banning late term abortions and eventually ban all abortions in New Mexico.


Not at all surprising is that Democrat Lujan Grisham has a more than comfortable lead over Ronchetti with Hispanic voters with a 25% advantage at 56% support to Republican Ronchetti’s 32%.   Amongst Anglo voters, Republican Roncheti has a 4% advantage amongst Anglos with 46% compared to 42% for Democrat Lujan Grisham. New Mexico as a whole is classified as a “minority majority” state meaning that the majority of its entire population is classified as a minority with Hispanic being the most prominent ethnicity.


When it comes to education levels, Democrat Lujan Grisham has a significant advantage over Ronchetti.  Amongst the college and graduate degree educated, Lujan Grisham has 51% and 58% support advantage respectively compared to Ronchetti’s  32% and 33% respectively.  Amongst the high school educated Lujan Grisham has a 3% advantage with 47% to 44% respectively.  Amongst the “some college or associate degree educated”, Ronchetti has a 4% support advantage with 44% to 40%.


On May 12, KOB 4 reported that a SurveyUSA poll found that Governor Lujan Grisham held a slim 4% lead over Ronchetti with at 47% to 43%.  The Lujan Grisham campaign was so alarmed that it used the poll results for fundraising.

The link to the SurveyUSA poll is here:

In addition to the New Mexico Governor’s race, the SurveyUsa poll also asked voters what issues were at the  top of their mind as they considered voting. The economy and inflation was the easy winner, with 41%of voters saying it was their most important issue. At 16%, crime led a three-issue group in second place. Climate change and water supply concerns were at 13% as fires raged across the state.

Over the las 3 months, the national and state political winds have changed dramatically and so has the voter mood benefiting democrats and Governor Lujan Grisham.  During the last 3 months, the following has occurred:

  1. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade abolishing a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and setting aside woman’s reproductive rights. Ronchetti praised the Supreme Court’s ruling when it first came out and he was exposed by Albuquerque Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon as holding extreme views on abortion and wanting to criminalize all abortions.
  2. Democrats have secured major approval of legislation in congress including billions for infrastructure and approval of a federal climate change law with federal monies allocated to the State.
  3. The Congressional Investigation of Donald Trump and his orchestrating the January 6 capitol riot to set aside the election has taken its toll as has the recent federal search warrant confirming he is being investigated for mishandling of highly classified documents that may have endangered or compromised the country’s national security or espionage.
  4. New Mexico is experiencing historical windfalls in the billions of surplus revenue which is now being invested by the state with the Governor announcing almost daily new infrastructure projects and how the money is being spent.
  5. There has been major decline in the state’s unemployment rate to 4.5% that the Governor can and is taking credit for.
  6. The effects of the pandemic are finally receding with Governor Lujan Grisham being given high marks for her handling of not only the pandemic crisis but also the handling of natural disasters such as the fires and flooding.
  7. Gas prices have gone down dramatically by as much as $1 per gallon.


Two months in any statewide race is an eternity in politics with the election scheduled for November 8.  Voters can expect an extreme ramping up of negative campaign ads that are even worse than what has been going on, especially from Republican Mark Ronchetti.

Least anyone forgets, Jay McCleskey is Republican Mark Ronchetti’s campaign manager and political consultant. Simply put, Jay McCleskey is the go-to guy for anyone who is Republican running for office willing to spend and do whatever it takes to win an election at any and all costs.  McClesky managed the successful campaigns of Mayor Richard Berry and Governor Suzanna Martinez as well as numerous campaigns for local and state offices

Former Republican Governor Susana Martinez was vicious in going after members of her own party who disagreed with her and she did that with Jay Mc Clesky carrying out her orders. It was reported that Southern New Mexico rancher Scott Chandler, a Republican, settled a defamation lawsuit he filed claiming political consultant Jay McCleskey and the former Republican Governor’s political action committee circulated untruthful mailers about him during the 2016 campaign. On December 15, 2021, the case was settled with McClesky’s insurance company agreeing to pay $375,000 to settle the defamation claims against McClesky.

One thing is for certain is that when you hire Jay Mc Clesky to manage your campaign, and if you do win, you can expect him to exert great influence over you until the day you leave office, as was the case with Republican Governor Suzana Martinez.  Jay McCleskey, who was not a state employee, had an office on the 4th floor of the state capitol next to the Governor Martinez.   McCleskey, who was living rent free in the Governor’s mind, thrust himself right in the middle of political appointments and government decisions.

During her first year in office, Governor Susanna Martinez was alleged to have been involved with a “play to play” controversy involving the award of a $1 Billion-dollar, 25-year, Albuquerque Downs Racetrack contract, dubbed by politicos as “The Dirty Downs Deal”. At the very center of the “Dirty Downs Deal” was Jay Mc Clesky who carried out the Governor’s orders. Allegations of nefarious conduct around the Downs lease involved political insiders, significant campaign contributions to Martinez and attempts to hide political donations and contributions to Governor Martinez or her political action committee from donors connected to the Downs.

Jay McCleskey is New Mexico’s version of Lee Atwater or Karl Rove, two of the most despicable right wing Republican bottom feeders and political consultants and strategists for the Republican Party.  McClesky has even received praises for his work from Karl Rove.  McClesky is known for his negative slash-and-burn tactics to disparage and viciously malign Democrats at all levels and he has been very successful at it in New Mexico for the last 20 years making a very lucrative living.

“political hit piece” is the lowest form of negative campaigning used by all successful bottom feeder political consultants to smear the reputation of an opponent. It’s difficult to respond to a political hit piece, especially at the end of a contentious campaign or if an opponent does not have the financial resources to respond to the lies and the liars who tell them. In New Mexico, McCleskey has elevated the “political hit piece” to an art form. His tactics are often condemned by the public and those who are the target. The problem is that negative campaigning and smear tactics work and has worked for Jay McClesky over the years.

Brace yourself New Mexico, the race for Governor of New Mexico in 2022 will likely be the most negative in the state’s history.  Should Republican Mark Ronchetti win, you can fully expect the return of shadow Governor Jay McClusky hiding behind the “green screen” of Mark Ronchetti as he pretends to know what he is talking about.


This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


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.