2022 Governor's Race

ANALYSIS: Ronchetti Leads GOP Pack, Trails Dem Incumbent by 4

The latest poll in the race to unseat New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham shows former weatherman Mark Ronchetti as the clear frontrunner.

Ronchetti trails the incumbent 47–43 but leads the other four Republican candidates by six to eleven points.

The poll has a 3.6-point margin of error, making the race a statistical tie.

Party Support

Despite taking fourth in the February pre-primary convention, Ronchetti outperformed his Republican opponents among registered Republicans in the latest gubernatorial poll, with 81% of his support coming from GOP voters. Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block had the second best showing among Republicans, with 73%, followed by financial advisor Greg Zanetti at 71%, state representative Rebecca Dow at 70%, and Ethel Maharg at 65%.

The “presumed” front-runner not only beat his fellow Republicans within the party, but had the best showing among Democrats and Independents, as well, pulling 12% of his support from the Democrat Party and 41% from Independents. Dow placed second among Democrats, with 10%, and Block won the second-most number of Independents at 33%.

Among Republican voters, Grisham performed the worst when facing off against Ronchetti, pulling 11%, compared to 12–13% against the other Republicans.

Ronchetti Beats MLG On Economy

Poll respondents overwhelmingly said the economy and inflation were their biggest concerns heading into the November election with 41%, followed by crime (a distant second at 16%), climate and water issues (13%), and border security (12%).

On the economy, Ronchetti was the only candidate to beat Grisham, by a nine point margin, 49–40. Dow, Zanetti, and Block all trailed Grisham by 1 or 2 points on the issue.

Republicans lined up against Grisham along party lines on the issues of climate and the border, with the large majorities of voters favoring Grisham on climate and Republicans on the border.

Where the Republicans distanced themselves from each other was on crime. While MLG led all Republicans on the issue, Ronchetti trailed by only 2 percentage points, versus 12 for Block, 16 for Dow and Zanetti, and 24 for Maharg.

Analysis

Ronchetti is no longer the presumed frontrunner. He is the frontrunner. All signs point to him taking the nomination in the primary next month.

Monday’s KOB4 poll showed Ronchetti leading the GOP pack by 32 points. He has raised more money than all other Republicans combined. And while some are skeptical of using betting odds as a bellwether, it’s the one measuring stick in politics that forces people to put their money where their mouth is. As of this writing, bets on Ronchetti are trading at 97 cents on the dollar. 

But for anyone who’s been reading the political tea leaves, Ronchetti isn’t a surprise. For die-hard Conservatives and MEGA MAGA populists, he wasn’t the first choice to win the nomination, but there’s no such thing as a perfect Republican.

A meteorologist’s prediction of the weather is not based on preference. Meaning that reality doesn’t correlate with desire. At this point, the question facing New Mexicans isn’t whether Ronchetti is their ideal candidate, but whether the obvious frontrunner is better than the sitting governor.

Primary Polling Surprise

The surprise of this race is that Rebecca Dow is in fourth place among Republicans and third place in head-to-head matchups against Grisham despite spending more than $840,000 in the race so far.

Dow was the presumed frontrunner before Ronchetti entered the race in October. Buoyed by big donations from the oil and gas industry, Dow has outspent Block and Zanetti (combined) by 38%.

She has appeared several times on NewsMax TV. She has spent exorbitantly on television ads attacking Ronchetti. But her message hasn’t landed.

When the mid-April financial reports posted, we wrote in “Ronchetti Is In: Opponents Must Now Decide How They’ll Help Boot MLG” that Republicans are faced with the fact that they’re not going to be the nominee, and if they truly want what’s best for New Mexico, they “need to be careful about forcing their supporters into an all-or-nothing commitment.”

If these eventual “also-ran” Republicans empty their campaign coffers in the lead up to the June primary attacking the eventual nominee, they’re doing more harm than good.

The writing is on the wall. While early voting has just begun, it’s time for Republicans to come together and recognize the greater threat to the future prosperity of all New Mexicans.

That means spending what’s left of their campaign contributions wisely—toward an outcome that benefits the state, not their individual placement among other also-ran candidates in the GOP primary.

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