On Tuesday, August 29, the Albuquerque Journal published the results of poll taken on the issue of abortion rights. The article had the above the fold headline “Voters divided on abortion” and the subhead line “Few support total ban, but opinions on limits diverge along party lines”. The article was written by long time Journal Capitol Bureau Chief Reporter Dan Boyd
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 read the full unedited Journal column is here:
RESULTS OF ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL POLL
The Journal poll is extremely revealing in that it breaks down the results not only as to party affiliation but also as to regions of the state.
The poll asked the question “WHICH COMES CLOSEST TO YOUR VIEW ON ABORTION” The results were as follows:
It should always be legal: 35%
It should be legal with some limitations: 22%
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 25%
It should always be illegal: 12%
Don’t know: 2%
None of these/won’t say: 4%
POLITCAL PARTY BREAKDOWN
The poll results were broken down according to party affiliation. The responses to the poll question by party affiliation were as follows:
It should always be legal:
It should be legal with some limitations:
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life:
It should always be illegal:
The poll results were broken down according to geographical regions. The responses to the poll questions were as follows:
ALBUQUERQUE METRO REGION
It should always be legal: 33%
It should be legal with some limitations: 23%
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life:26%
It should always be illegal: 11%
NORTHEAST/NORTH CENTRAL REGION
It should always be legal: 39%
It should be legal with some limitations: 22%
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 18%
It should always be illegal: 14%
LAS CRUCES/SOUTHWEST REGION
It should always be legal: 44%
It should be legal with some limitations: 30%
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 12%
It should always be illegal: 8%
It should always be legal: 27%
It should be legal with some limitations: 15%
It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 42%
It should always be illegal: 15%
New Mexico voters are 3 times more likely to say abortion should always be legal than they were to say it should always be illegal. According to the poll, 35% of statewide voters surveyed said abortion should always be legal, 22% said the procedure should be legal, for a combined total of 57%. The poll found that 25% felt there should be some limitations and said it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is in danger. Just 12% of voters surveyed said abortion should always be illegal, while 4% would not say and 2% said they did not know.
According to the Journal poll results, Democrats are firmly behind a woman’s right to choose with 55% of Democrats saying abortion should always be legal and 24% of Democrats said it should be legal with some limitations for a whopping 79% combined percentage.
Republicans’ opinion are dramatically opposite with 8% saying abortion should always be legal, while 24% said it should be banned and 41% said it should be illegal with exceptions for cases of rape, incest and to save a mother’s life, with a 65% combined total to make it illegal or illegal with the exceptions of rape, incest or threat to the life of the woman.
The difference by party affiliation shrinks to a 6% difference when it comes to how voters they felt if abortions should be legal with some limitations. Interestingly, more Democrats, 24%, felt that there should be some limitations while fewer Republicans, 18%, felt there should be some limitations.
The Journal Poll did not find a big difference in attitudes on abortion between New Mexico voters based on their gender, ethnicity and age. There was little difference in voters’ views on abortion based on their education level with one exception, voters with graduate degrees were far more likely than other groups of voters to say abortion should always be legal.
With respect to the regional poll analysis, it’s somewhat of a surprise to note that it is the Las Cruces/Southwest area that had the highest approval of any region in the state that supported abortion without limits with a full 44%, while the Albuquerque Metro Region supported abortion without limits at 33%.
The Southern area of the state is widely considered a conservative part of the state, excluding the progressive Las Cruces, while the Albuquerque Metro area is considered more progressive. One explanation for the 11% difference between the regions is that more conservative Valencia and Sandoval were included and skewed the results.
Not at all surprising is that the Progressive Northeast/North Central Region of the state had the highest percent of support saying abortion should always be legal with 39%. Also not surprising is that in the very conservative Eastside region, 42% said that abortion should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life, and 15% said it should always be illegal.
GOVERNOR MLG SIGNS EXECTIVE ORDER FOR ABORTION CLINIC
On August 31, Governor Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that pledges $10 million to build a state-funded clinic providing abortion and other services in Doña Ana County. In her Executive Order, Governor Lujan Grisham declared that “the right to reproductive health care services is essential to a woman’s autonomy, dignity, and equality in our society”. She also declared that “New Mexicans deserve access to the respect, information, and resources they need to make their own personal healthcare decisions and decide what is best for themselves and their families” and declared “abortion is an essential part of reproductive heathcare and must remain legal, safe and accessible”.
The executive order states:
“The Department of Finance and Administration to designate $10 million of the Executives capitol allocation for the upcoming 2023 legislative session for the purpose of developing a new clinic that provides a full spectrum of patient-centered, community informed reproductive healthcare, including abortion in Dona Ana County.
The Department of Health shall … develop a detailed plan to leverage State resources to expand access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, in the underserved areas of the state … [and] assess the feasibility of the provision of medication abortion in public health clinics overseen by the Department.”
The Executive order provides that the Human Services Department shall
“as soon as practical develop policies and take action to improve the efficiency and sustainability of access to reproductive health services.”
The link to the Executive order is here:
The new clinic is intended to provide reproductive health, including abortion, to New Mexico women and other women from outlying states, including Texas, who are now denied abortion as medical service. The clinic will allow women to exercise their rights to all reproductive services including birth control, post-natal care, and “appropriate medical management of miscarriage and pregnancy loss”.
The Governor said in a statement:
“This is a state that will stand against any attempts to remove or eviscerate women’s constitutional rights. … Abortion is an essential part of reproductive healthcare and must remain legal, safe, and accessible. New Mexico has recently implemented additional measures to protect reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care services such as repealing an antiquated state statute criminalizing abortion. … [I have previously] issued and executive order to protect access to reproductive health care services in New Mexico.”
It was in June that Lujan Grisham issued a previous executive order aimed at shielding health care professionals targeted by lawsuits from losing their licenses or being disciplined for providing abortion services. The June order asserts the state will not comply with abortion-related arrest warrants or extradition requests from other states.
Republican Governor Mark Ronchetti was quick to react saying the governor’s executive order was extreme and out of step with New Mexicans’ values and he said in a statement:
“New Mexico was already the abortion capital of the United States, and now taxpayers are having to foot the bill for a clinic which will perform abortions up to the moment of birth for non-residents who come from other states around the country.”
Given the results of the Albuquerque Journal poll on abortion, it is Republican Mark Ronchetti who is the one that is totally out of step with New Mexico’s values, especially the value of respecting a woman’s right to choose and to decide what she can do with her own body and reproductive rights.
The links to quoted news source material are here:
EMERGENCE OF A DEFINING ISSUE
“On June 22, 2021the United States Supreme Court released its decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization wherein the Supreme Court overruled and reversed the cases of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and ruled that a woman does not have constructionally protected right to an abortion and ruled the authority to regulate abortion was returned to the individual states and their elected representatives. It was a reversal of 50 years of constitutional law precedence. The reversal was a 6-3 opinion where 3 Republican Justices appointed by President Trump ensured the reversal. The public reaction was immediate and swift resulting in protests through out the country in all major cities.”
According to an August 26, 2022 New York Times article, an as a direct result of the US Supreme Court ruling, most abortions are now banned in at least 12 states as laws restricting the procedure take effect following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. An additional two states now ban abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.
In many states the fight over abortion access is still taking place in courtrooms, where advocates have sued to block enforcement of laws that restrict the procedure.
This year, a record number of abortion questions will be on state ballots. The decidedly Republican red state of Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization. On August 3, Voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have said there was no right to an abortion in the state.
In the lead-up to the Kansas vote, supporters of the amendment argued that it was necessary to correct what they say was the Kansas Supreme Court’s overreach in striking down some of the state’s previous abortion restrictions in 2019. Opponents argued that the amendment would set state lawmakers up to pursue a total abortion ban.
The vote was not even close. 59% voted NO on the amendment that would have repealed abortion rights and 41% voted YES.
NEW MEXICO IS NO EXCEPTION
In New Mexico, abortion has become the defining issue in the race for Governor that features incumbent Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and TV Weatherman Republican Mark Ronchetti.
On Friday, February 26, 2021, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill repealing the 1969 abortion ban. The 1969 law criminalized abortion to end a woman’s pregnancy except in certain circumstances, such as rape and incest. The 1969 state statute had not been enforced been in the state due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade in the 1970s, which legalized abortion nationwide.
The repeal of the 1969 law was necessitated by the fact the repeated attempts have been made over the years to have the United States Supreme Court reversed the decision of Roe v Wade. With the appointment of 3 very conservative supreme justices by President Trump the reversal of Roe v. Wade was inevitable.
In a statement in signing the repeal, Governor Lujan Grisham had this to say:
“A woman has the right to make decisions about her own body. Anyone who seeks to violate bodily integrity, or to criminalize womanhood, is in the business of dehumanization. New Mexico is not in that business – not anymore. Our state statutes now reflect this inviolable recognition of humanity and dignity. I am incredibly grateful to the tireless advocates and legislators who fought through relentless misinformation and fear-mongering to make this day a reality. Equality for all, equal justice and equal treatment – that’s the standard. And I’m proud to lead a state that today moved one step closer to that standard.”
After the Supreme Court released it decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican Governor candidate Mark Ronchetti praised the court’s decision. He then suggested a “reasonable policy” that proposed banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to preserve the life of the mother. Ronchetti labeled Governor Lujan Grisham position on abortion as “extreme” since she opposes abortion restrictions. The Governor countered by saying Ronchetti is actually the candidate with the extreme stance on the issue and claimed it is Ronchetti’s position on abortion that shifted after the primary election.
It turns out Ronchetti “reasonable policy” was nothing more than a lie to get elected Governor by toning down his true intent. On Sunday, July 10, the very conservative Republican pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church during his Sunday church service, exposed Republican Mark Ronchetti’s stance on abortion that would allow abortion for up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk as nothing more than a lie to get elected Governor. What Smothermon preached and said from his pulpit was that Rochetti confessed to him in private that “he wants to start with getting rid of partial birth abortion in the whole state and said ‘but I can’t just go in and do it 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ Smothern proclaimed Ronchetti wants to start with banning partial birth abortion but his goal is to end abortion entirely in New Mexico.
While Texas and other neighboring states have enacted abortion bans, New Mexico allows abortion services without any restrictions since state lawmakers in 2021 passed the repeal of the 1969 criminal law banning abortions. The state has also seen an increase of out-of-state residents coming to the state to obtain abortion services. In response to the increase in out of state residents seeking abortions, Governor Lujan Grisham issued an executive order in June that protects abortion patients and providers from lawsuits and arrest warrants issued in other states.
DEMOCRATS LEAD IN ALL IN STATWIDE RACES
On Sunday, August 28 and Monday August 29, the Albuquerque Journal released its poll in the statewide races for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Public Lands. According to the poll, the New Mexico Governor’s race is the closest of all the top statewide races with a single 7%-digit lead with Governor Lujan Grisham leading with 47% to Republican Mark Ronchetti at 40%.
The Democratic candidates for Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and Land Commissioner all lead their Republican opponents by 10% or more. In the Secretary of State Race, Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver lead with 45% to Republican Audrey Trujillo at 33%. In the race for Attorney General, Democrat Raul Torrez leads with 49% to Republican Jeremy Gay with 33%. In the State Treasuer race, Democrat Laura Montoya leads with 44% to Republican Harry Montoya at 33%. In the race for Land Commissioner, Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard leads with 46% to Republican Jefferson Byrd at 35%.
Democrats have a decisive 13.8% advantage over Republicans in the state. As the saying goes, “Republicans win in New Mexico when Democrats stay home on election day.”
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 of the registration numbers is as follows:
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 %
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
To the chagrin of Republicans and extremists like Mark Ronchetti, abortion and woman’s reproductive rights are the defining issue in the states and in the 2022 midterms for US Congress. Republicans had wanted to make President Joe Biden’s job performance with his underwater approval ratings, the economy and inflation as the top issues to retake both the United State Senate and Congress. All that began to change with the reversal of Roe v. Wade and more than a few states coming down hard on a woman’s right to choose.
Over the last 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- There has been major decline in the state’s unemployment rate to 4.5% that the Governor can and is taking credit for.
- 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.
- Gas prices have gone down dramatically by as much as $1 per gallon.
Based upon the results of the Albuquerque Journal abortion poll, there is no doubt where New Mexico voters stand when it comes abortion and woman’s reproductive rights. There is also no doubt that abortion is the defining issue in the Governor’s race. A total of 59% of voters who said they planned to vote for Lujan Grisham said abortion should always be legal, while 47% of voters surveyed who intend to vote for Ronchetti said abortion should be illegal with some limited exceptions.
If the poll numbers hold true over the next two months as is expected, the 2022 elections for Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and Land Commissioner are likely over. Voter turnout in those races will likely benefit Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection prospects, of course only if Democrats get out to vote.
The forecast for Republican Mark Ronchetti and his fellow Republicans is “very cloudy” and there is a likelihood of a heavy monsoon will rain on their parade come November 8.