Las Cruces – With less than thirty days before Election Day, campaigns across the state are in the critical stage before early voting begins October 11th. This is especially true in Dona Ana County, where a number of third party conservative and liberal organizations operations are underway. There are door-to-door campaign efforts all across New Mexico to be sure, but Dona Ana is the only known location where independent groups (organizations not affiliated with any candidate or political party) from both persuasions are active in door-to-door voter canvassing.
Why is this significant? A couple of reasons:
First, as any political scientist will tell you, it is well established that face-to-face voter engagement is the single most effective technique to mobilize voters. But while voter canvassing is the single most effective “weapon” in a political strategist’s arsenal, it is also expensive due to labor costs.
Second, as campaign finance law has evolved, activities that were traditionally considered “party” duties such as voter canvassing are now being conducted by outside groups. This can be explained by a number of factors, but two of the most significant are donation limits and disclosure requirements.
Therefore, as a prudent manager of an independent political operation expected to mobilize voters, you will only deploy boots on the ground where they will have the greatest impact. And to my knowledge, only in Dona Ana County are there active independent voter canvassing efforts from both sides. The groups are actively hiring; just last week the leading liberal organizing group in Dona Ana NM CAFé announced they are looking to hire canvassers through November 8th.
The reason is simple: there are four Republican incumbents running in competitive districts that ultimately might determine the outcome of who controls the New Mexico House of Representatives come January
The reason is simple: there are four Republican incumbents running in competitive districts that ultimately might determine the outcome of who controls the New Mexico House of Representatives come January: District 36 (Andy Nunez), District 37 (Terry McMillan), District 39 (John Zimmerman), and District 53 (Rick Little). The House of Representatives is divided 37 to 33, so the Democrats need to flip two seats to tie or three to take control. State Senators Lee Cotter (R) and Bill Soules (D) are also expecting serious GOTV efforts from their challengers. While the Senate is not in serious play, conservatives have focused resources on protecting Cotter’s incumbency and threatening Soules’ electoral security.
Clearly, both sides understand the importance of performing well in Dona Ana. Given that it is a Presidential election cycle, one would expect voter turnout to be higher, but because both Clinton and Trump have record high unfavorable ratings voter apathy is a serious concern. That means the effectiveness of door-to-door efforts by independent groups will be even more crucial in securing victory come November.