Sep 15, 2019

Why Trump is rallying in New Mexico

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

At a Trump rally back in February in El Paso, Texas, the campaign saw an unexpected pattern in the attendee data — a large crowd of New Mexicans crossed the state line to be there.

  • "That was our first glimpse into the idea that there might be something happening," the Trump campaign's Tim Murtaugh told Axios.

Why it matters: Since then, New Mexico has become an unlikely target for the 2020 Trump campaign. It's the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics and Latinos (about 1 in 2 residents), and it's gone with Democrats in 6 of the last 7 general elections.

Reality check: Demographers and pollsters tell Axios it's highly unlikely Trump can win New Mexico's 5 electoral votes.

  • The state Latino population is overwhelmingly Democratic.
  • Major New Mexico cities are booming and moving left politically, while Republican strongholds are losing their share of the population.
  • Trump lost New Mexico in 2016, and his net approval rating has plummeted from +17 when he first took office to -13 as of July. The blue wave hit New Mexico hard in 2018.
  • America First — a prominent pro-Trump group — told Axios it doesn't have plans at this point to poll in New Mexico.

But it's an inexpensive bet to take for the RNC, given its relatively small population and centralized media, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc.

  • The state economy was one of the last to recover from the recession, but has been doing well for the past year and a half, Sanderoff said.
  • The state was untapped in 2016, RNC spokesperson Rick Gorka told Axios.
  • New Mexico Democrats tend to have more conservative views than other Democrats on religious freedom, LGBTQ+ rights and abortion, and there are signs of rising Latino support for Trump, Gorka and Murtaugh said. The Democrat-led state Senate voted to keep a law that criminalizes abortion.
  • The percentage of immigrants is lower than other border states such as California, Texas and Arizona, according to Census data.
  • Trump's immigration policy and rhetoric may resonate in eastern New Mexico, aka "Little Texas," said Gabriel Sanchez of the University of New Mexico.

Go deeper

Trump pitches to Hispanic voters at New Mexico rally

President Trump during his rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Sept. 16. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

President Trump made a pitch to Latino voters at a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Monday night, touting the low unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans and declaring that he'd win the state.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to win the Democratic stronghold, where almost half the population is Hispanic, will provide a test of how well his hardline immigration policies and rhetoric about immigrants will play with Latino voters, AP notes.

Go deeperArrowSep 17, 2019

Key labor leader says rushing NAFTA replacement would be "colossal mistake"

Richard Trumka at a rally. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged House Democrats not to expedite the approval of a new North American trade deal in the coming weeks, telling the Washington Post in an interview: “If there was a vote before Thanksgiving, the agreement would be defeated."

Why it matters: Trumka has the backing of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO federation, giving him significant influence on the thinking of House Democrats as they continue to negotiate the Trump-backed United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019

New Mexico to offer free tuition to state residents

College graduates throwing caps in the air. Photo: Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

New Mexico is set to announce Wednesday that state residents would have access to free college for both 2- and 4-year public schools, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The state proposal is the furthest reaching plan yet for free college, offering tuition to all 29 public universities for families to any resident, regardless of the ability to pay.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019