First Latina Governor Martinez Gets Big Popularity Boost After RNC Speech

New Mexico governor speaks at GOP convention


Just days after speaking at the Republican National Convention the first Latina Governor in U.S. history, Susana Martínez, has seen a 9 percentage point boost in her approval rating among New Mexico voters.

A poll commissioned by The Albuquerque Journal found that 69 percent of 402 New Mexico likely voters approve of the Republican governor's performance 20 months into her first term.

That rating is significantly higher than the 60 percent approval rating Martínez received just a few days before she spoke in late August at the RNC in Tampa, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters. A poll of 400 registered voters in January by Colorado College State had her approval rating at 61 percent.

Meanwhile, 17 percent of voters polled Sept. 3-6 said they disapprove of her job performance, while 14 percent were undecided, the poll found.

"She's focused on issues that are popular among the voters," said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. "As a Republican governor, she has not followed the curve of other Republican governors who have tried to balance the budget by cutting Medicaid or school funding."

Martínez's prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29 in Tampa, Fla., probably boosted her approval rating back home, Sanderoff said. She spoke between former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, though several major television networks skipped most of her address.

Approval ratings for the governor were strong in all parts of New Mexico and among both Hispanic and white voters, the Journal Poll found.

Even Democratic voters were more likely to approve than disapprove of Martínez's job performance, with 56 percent of likely Democratic voters saying they approve of Martínez's performance as governor and 24 percent saying they disapprove. About 20 percent of Democratic voters were undecided.

Eighty-nine percent of the voters in her own party approved, while 6 percent disapproved and 5 percent were undecided. Rounding error prevents some totals from equaling 100 percent.

Martínez, elected in 2010 with 53 percent of the vote, has pushed for tougher school standards and for the repeal of a state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. She has also opposed new taxes and trimmed the size of state government without mass layoffs.

Meanwhile, the same Journal poll showed a majority  agreement of the governor's policy stances. Nearly three-fourths of New Mexicans don't like the idea of giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants that includes 62 percent of Latino voters.

Recent controversies over the Martínez administration's past use of private email addresses to conduct state government business and her administration's handling of a new 25-year lease at the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque do not appear to have affected the governor's approval ratings, Sanderoff said.

"Those controversies have not necessarily jumped to the highest level of awareness among average voters at this time," he said.

A total of 402 likely voters were interviewed via land lines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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