As the US Presidential Election hangs in the balance, both parties have shifted their focus. From the key battleground states of the mid-west to the south-western states of the country. Colorado, Nevada, and even Arizona have all been too close to call during the final stages of the campaign. However, none are closer than New Mexico. Which recorded the closest vote in the 2000 election with Gore winning by just 366 votes. With only five electoral college votes, both campaigns understand the significance of New Mexico in this year’s election.
The Race for the South-West: Key Battleground States in the US Presidential Election
Election Eve Activity
On election eve, Leonardo DiCaprio and President Bush made simultaneous appearances in New Mexico. DiCaprio visited Democratic supporters at the party’s campaign headquarters in the city. While President Bush held his pre-election day campaign at an outdoor venue near the city. Several thousand supporters and curious onlookers attended the President’s event. During which he said: “We’re coming down the stretch, and there’s no better place to come than Albuquerque, New Mexico.”
While election eve activity may have been frenetic, election day saw a slow start at the polls. This may be due to early voting, as one-third of New Mexico’s 1.1m voters, including 10% of newly-registered voters, had already voted. However, in some polling stations, the voting was taking voters an average of one hour to vote. And there were concerns ranging from monitor’s access to voters to names missing from electoral rolls, to voters being directed to the wrong polling station. Unlike four years ago, voters were allowed to post provisional ballots, meaning that if their eligibility was in dispute, they could vote and their case would be cleared up in the days ahead.
The Hispanic Vote
The Hispanic vote is critical in New Mexico, and this year, its traditionally Democratic inclinations have been tempered by the Bush campaign’s appeal to its religious conservatism. The president’s promotion of what it terms “family values” – measures against abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research – may have succeeded in winning over many traditionally Democratic Hispanic voters.
Young Voters’ Views
Many voters spoken to on Tuesday morning had been swayed during the campaign by the presidential debates. For example, Eduardo Gallegos, who was voting for the first time, said, “I feel like I’ve made a difference. The way they presented themselves in the debates made a difference. The war on terror was the main issue for me. One candidate used fear, he seemed to be saying that if we didn’t vote for him, we’d be in more danger.”
In the southwestern states, New Mexicans were feeling a little giddy at all the national attention. As David Roybal wrote in the Albuquerque Journal, “In this long courtship that is about to conclude. New Mexico has been wined and dined and denied the opportunity to sit out even a single dance. We better get at least a phone call the morning after.”
Source: The Guardian