Earlier this month, I listed a few races I thought might be surprises on Election Night — unexpected victories by both parties that few had predicted. One that I listed was the New Mexico Senate race between Democratic incumbent Tom Udall and GOP businessman Allen Weh.
I wrote that Obama’s 38 percent approval rating “gives Udall’s opponent, businessman Allen Weh, a chance to pull an upset — especially if he pulls money out of his own wallet for last-minute ads.”
In the only other major statewide race, GOP governor Susana Martinez has an incredible 13.3-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of all polls. The likely landslide for Martinez appears to be reducing Democratic voter turnout to the point that Udall is in danger.
A new Albuquerque Journal poll on Monday gave Udall only a seven-point lead. He is losing Anglo voters to Weh by 52 percent to 43 percent, while maintaining a two-to-one advantage among Latinos.
That poll was followed later in the day by a survey from Vox Populi, which found Udall with only a 47 percent to 43 percent edge over Weh. Vox Populi pollster Brent Seaborn concluded that “the deteriorating national political environment for Democrats and President Obama has put Senate races like New Mexico at risk for Democrats.”
I agree with my colleague Jim Geraghty that if the GOP went all the “Weh” in New Mexico it would be a stunning upset. But every election cycle brings up one or more surprises — think about the Democratic capture of a North Dakota Senate seat in 2012 in a state that Mitt Romney carried by over 20 points. Or the GOP upset of Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin in 2010.
New Mexico is normally a Democratic state, but a combination of unusual factors just might make it the surprise race of 2014.