New Mexico is shaping up to be one of the most interesting battleground states in the West this year. The presidential polls are starting to look good for Obama, and Representative Tom Udall, a member of the West's most famous environmentalist family, has a good chance of taking the Senate seat currently held by the legendarily anti-green Pete Domenici.
So New Mexico is just the sort of state where the Republican Party should be moving towards the center on environmental issues. Right? Not according to Heather Wilson, U.S House member from the state's first congressional district who recently lost a bid for the Republican nomination in New Mexico's Senate race. She lists jobs, the price of gas, and national defense as the three main issues for voters in her home state. The environment? "Not so much," she says. "The price of energy is a much bigger deal. The environment never even gets into double digits in the polls as the issue that voters think is most important."
Maybe she's right about the polls. Voters have plenty to worry about these days, what with a war and a recession going on. It's hard to care too much about Bush gutting the Endangered Species Act when your job just got offshored. But my guess is that there are a lot of New Mexico voters who count the environment as at least the second or third most important issue on their list. And my guess is that a candidate's position on the environment could sway some of these people's votes. And maybe that's why the oddsmakers at the web's most sophisticated electoral projection site give Tom Udall a 77% chance of winning the election this November.