Nine days before primary elections, a Clovis Media Inc. poll shows one of the most hotly contested state races is in a dead heat.
Although the final tally of the poll shows state Senate District 7 Republican candidate Angie Spears with a slight lead over Pat Woods — 38 percent to 31 percent — it has a 6.86 percent margin of error.
Additionally, about a third of the voters polled during the past 10 days said they still haven't decided how they will vote June 5.
The CMI poll gave Woods a two-vote edge in Curry County where 78 percent of the District 7 GOP voters live.
Many of the undecided voters said they were bothered by the negative tone of the campaign.
Woods and his supporters, including outgoing Sen. Clint Harden of Clovis, have criticized Gov. Susana Martinez's early endorsement of Spears. Martinez's political advisor Jay McClesky has attacked Woods' for past donations to "liberal" Democrats.
Pundits across the state have been speculating for weeks that Martinez is splitting the state GOP with her support of Spears over Woods.
Bruce Donisthorpe of Albuquerque, who has been doing polling since 2006, said he's not conducted a poll on the Spears-Woods race despite requests because "the race is too hot right now. It's too toxic to poll."
The CMI's poll was conducted during the past 10 days, surveying Republicans who voted in the last presidential primary.
Spears said she thought CMI's poll confirmed what she has been hearing in her door-to-door campaigning — "That people don't want business as usual in Santa Fe."
Spears said she hasn't conducted any polls of her own.
"I'm going out there and continuing to campaign door-to-door, debating the issues ... and telling people why I'm running," she said.
Woods did not return phone calls seeking comment, but answered via email:
"Election day is the only poll that counts. I am meeting people in our communities so that they will know that I am a businessman who has made a payroll, balanced budgets, and created jobs. I am the most experienced and qualified candidate in this race and I am endorsed by over 500 Republicans who live, work, and raise their families on the east side."
Woods also responded with results from two polls he said his campaign has conducted.
He said a Friday night poll showed 296 participants favored Woods over Spears, 51 percent to 38 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
A poll the Woods campaign conducted May 19-20 showed Woods leading 48 percent to 36 percent, with 16 percent undecided, Woods said.
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Why they voted
Area Republicans polled by Clovis Media Inc. offered a wide range of reasons for supporting Angie Spears or Pat Woods in the New Mexico Senate District 7 race.
Here's a sampling:
• We need someone new and young. She favors education change.
• I've seen her go door-to-door and she seems like a go-getter.
• Woods' ideas on Ute Lake would ruin the lake.
• Dennis Roch is a good friend and he supports her. That's good enough for me.
• I'm just tired of the good ol' boy network in Santa Fe.
• She came out in my yard and talked to me. She sat down with me and answered all my questions.
• She's strong pro-life. That's the biggie.
• I just thought if the governor was for her she might be a good one.
• I think she's wanting to help trim the budget and also to stop the illegal immigrants from having a New Mexico driver's license.
• I read both handouts. The past history of Mr. Woods' donations to real liberal Democrats seems a bit strange to me. The more I read about it, the more I'm not comfortable with his past actions.
• Matt Chandler endorsed her.
• He's more knowledgeable, especially on farm and ranch and community needs.
• I don't like that she is making so much out of his donations. When you get to be as old as we are, you usually give money to a friend.
• My husband has known his family for several years.
• Some of her negative campaigning — it just reeks. It just doesn't set well with me or my husband.
• I like his views more. He will compromise with the other party better.
• I go to church with him. He's a good, clean-cut Christian man. He knows what he wants and he's not influenced by outsiders.
• I didn't like the governor endorsing before the primaries.
• I don't like the mud-slinging.
• He's just a mature and experienced person.
• I don't like to be told how to vote by anybody from Albuquerque or Santa Fe. I'm very disappointed in Matt Chandler for supporting Angie Spears.
• Spears has too many family ties in politics.
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About our poll
Clovis Media Inc. staff polled Republicans from Curry, Union and Quay counties over the past 10 days, asking their preference in the District 7 state Senate race.
We received 201 responses to our question "Will you vote for Angie Spears or Pat Woods?," reversing the order of the candidates' names with every other call.
We also asked "What has influenced you to vote that way?"
County clerks, in accordance with the New Mexico Open Records Act, provided voter information from the 2010 Republican primary and we selected poll participants from those lists.
About 73 percent of our respondents were from Curry County, 16 percent from Quay and 11 percent from Union, consistent with registered GOP voters who participated in the 2010 primary.
The poll's margin of error is 6.86 percent.
By the numbers
• Angie Spears: 76 (38 percent)
• Pat Woods: 63 (31 percent)
• Undecided: 62 (31 percent)
• Curry: Woods 54, Spears 52, Undecided 40
• Quay: Undecided 16, Spears 11, Woods 6
• Union: Spears 13, Undecided 6, Woods 3
Registered Republicans in District 7:
• Curry: 10,183 (78 percent of the district)
• Quay: 1,840 (14 percent)
• Union: 1,048 (8 percent)
Voting in 2010 GOP primary:
• Curry: 2,653 (72 percent of the current district)
• Quay: 605 (16 percent)
• Union: 418 (11 percent)