Contested Dem primary drives up New Mexico turnout

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The contentious battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination has already driven up turnout in New Mexico.

This year, 117,506 people voted early in the primary election statewide according to numbers from the Secretary of State’s office, sharply up from the 66,661 who weighed in early.in 2012. The majority of that uptick appears to be coming from Democrats showing up in larger numbers. Because of the contested race, UNM political science professor Gabriel Sanchez says it’s difficult to read too much into the numbers.

“It’s really comparing apples to oranges,” Sanchez said.

What’s unclear is how election day turnout will be affected by late news Monday night that Clinton had earned enough new superdelegate pledges to push her over the needed number to clinch the nomination. Because those superdelegates don’t vote until the party convention, Sanders is remaining in the fight, attempting to convince superdelegates with an impressive performance on Tuesday.

New Mexico’s late primary date means the presidential primaries are often decided before state residents get a chance to weigh in. This year though, New Mexico enjoyed visits from the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, Sanders, and Bill Clinton.

Sanchez says the Clinton campaign’s decision not to have Hillary Clinton herself visit the state likely reflects confidence in the state’s vote.

“She didn’t perceive that she had to to still wrap up the state,” Sanchez said. “[So she spent] more time in California.”

Eight years ago, Clinton won New Mexico’s caucuses against then-candidate Barack Obama.

Other races are on the primary ballot this year, including contested primaries in a number of state House and Senate races. Another high profile race is between Raul Torrez and Ed Perea to be Democratic nominee for Bernalillo County’s district attorney.

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