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So goes the West?

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emilys | Nov 04, 2008 12:25 PM

After two almost-too-close-to-call presidential elections, New Mexico is now considered safe turf for Barack Obama. But more interestingly, in a poll taken just two days ago, things were looking up for the rest of New Mexico's Democratic candidates. Currently, Republicans hold one of the two U.S. Senate seats and two of the three U.S. Congressional seats (read our overview). According to the poll, however, Democrats could sweep the state.

Harry Teague, the conservative Democrat who's running in the historically conservative 2nd District (that's Steve Pearce's old seat, which includes the southern part of the state), was polling at 45 percent, compared to his Republican contender, Ed Tinsley's 41 percent. Teague would be the first Democrat to hold the seat in more than 30 years.

Meanwhile, in the 1st Congressional District, Martin Heinrich, D, is polling at 47 percent while Darren White, R, is polling at 43 percent. At the time of the poll, 10 percent of voters were still undecided and that group will likely determine the outcome of this seat.

Whether the Dems sweep the state or not, the ground that they're gaining could signify a sea change that's unfolding across the country today -- and perhaps a future sea change in the West. During the past few election cycles, New Mexico has been known as a battleground state, with presidential elections that were won and lost by less than 1 percent of the vote and repeated nail biters over the fate of the 1st Congressional District. This year marks a tipping point, whether all three or just two of the three Congressional seats go to Dems.  And with "red states" like Arizona and Montana inching toward surprisingly close presidential races, New Mexico could be a bellwether for the West's political future.

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