Monday, November 10, 2008

Politics: Election Report

Lonna Atkeson, University of New Mexico political science professor, crunches numbers and does post-election interviews of candidates. She gave a preliminary report at noon today to the Albuquerque Press Women. All her figures are preliminary, she said.
Atkeson's wisdom usually doesn't quite run with the conventional. Today was no exception. At least in New Mexico, she does not see the election as a transformation, but rather as "a response to a particular set of conditions." It will be interesting to see how the electorate responds to the policy changes resulting from the legislature being pushed left.
Application of voter identification procedures varies from precinct to precinct, Atkeson said. Voter ID is done correctly in perhaps 5% of precincts.
Across the state, voter turnout dropped slightly in percentage. It was 68.2% this year and 69% in 2004. Turnout was about 56% in 2000. Turnout increased in Cibola, DeBaca, Hildalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Taos and Torrance counties. Turnout dropped most in Grant and Union counties.
One striking result from the 2008 election is the continued rise in the percentage of registered voters not declaring a party preference. The "others" were about 14.5% this year, up from 12.75% in 2004 and 11% in 2000. This "sorting" of party affiliation, which is happening everywhere, will produce more volatility as people choose one message and then the other. The sorting has much to do with the nationalization of politics, which was caused by television. Today's fragmentation of media means more partisanship as the political junkies on one side or the other choose self-reinforcing media. The informed are even more informed, the uninformed know less. Politically inactive people are becoming even more inactive.
At about 22%, Dona Ana and Lincoln counties have the most other" voters. Bernalillo, Los Alamos and Santa Fe are just behind at 20%. Atkeson sees "an interesting tension" with party extremes pushing people to the left or right and people drifting to the middle.

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