Republicans and Democrats face off in race for state legislature

stockimg NM State Capitol Building; Roundhouse

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tracking turnout — political experts say it’s come down to this. While they believed, weeks ago, a Democratic wave could allow the party to keep the state Senate and gain control of the House, experts say new developments have them thinking twice. Yet, they say more important than the individual races is what’s at stake for state government.

“This really is pretty historic, ” said political expert and professor Gabe Sanchez.

Sanchez is talking about the struggle for power in the New Mexico House. Democrats had control of it for six decades before Republicans took control two years ago. Now, Sanchez says their reign maybe short lived.

Many of the hotly contested House races are in swing districts, but most of those districts have more registered Democrats than Republicans. Several weeks back, experts thought the party would secure power in both the House and Senate. That is, until the reemergence of the email scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton.

“You see this probably providing a lane for the Republicans to perceive, ‘hey, we might be able to hold on to our seats,'” explained Sanchez.

While Sanchez doesn’t believe Republicans can take the Senate, he says the scandal likely dampened Democrats’ enthusiasm. Likewise, Sanchez says Trump could also impact the local ballot.

“They’re essentially trying to connect as many of these state legislators to Donald Trump as humanly possible because they perceive that gives them a shot at removing some of these folks from office. However, the flip side is also true. There are a lot of folks who are enthused, probably for the first time, for voting Republican, by Donald Trump’s campaign,” Sanchez said.

Early voter turnout showed Democrats drastically outpacing Republicans, by 13-percent. However, Sanchez says those numbers could be deceiving. While he says the email scandal may have caused that percentage to shrink, Sanchez says a nationwide push to get voters to the polls early might have somethings to do with early voter turnout.

“It’s not guaranteed we’ll see the huge turnout continue all the way through Election Day. A lot of people might have wanted to vote early and get it out of the way,” said Sanchez.

Right now, Republicans have a 37 to 33 majority in the House. In the Senate, where Democrats have held control since the ’80’s, Dems have 24 senators to Republicans at 18.

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