ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The race for governor may be closer than a lot of people thought.
A new poll has Democratic challenger Gary King neck and neck with Gov. Susana Martinez.
For the first time since King won the Democratic primary to run for governor against incumbent Martinez, an independent poll takes a look at where the candidates stand.
Rasmussen has King and Martinez in a tie, each at 43 percent.
“A year ago, virtually everybody was saying Gov. Martinez was unassailable and so, what this poll shows is that clearly that’s not true,” King said.
The poll also shows only 74 percent of Democrats back King.
Gabriel Sanchez, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, said King needs to win over more Democrats to win the race.
“King has the prospect of winning simply because there are more Democrats than Republicans, but if he can’t match the governor toe to toe in terms of securing their own base, then the fight becomes about moderate voters, independent voters,” Sanchez said.
A spokesman from Gov. Martinez’ campaign said, “Every poll taken in the gubernatorial race, including the one Gary King released last week, has shown Governor Martinez leading.”
The poll King’s campaign released had Martinez at 45 percent compared with King at 39 percent.
A Republican Party of New Mexico memo called Thursday’s Rasmussen poll, “wildly inaccurate,” saying it included too many younger voters and too few older voters.
King said whether it’s a tie or a difference of six points, he’s catching up quickly.
Despite all the polling, Sanchez said it is way too early to use these figures to predict who will win the Nov. 4th election.
“In my opinion, this is helpful largely for fundraising more than anything else,” Sanchez said.
He said both candidates can use a tight race to show they’ll need all the financial support they can get.