A new poll taken 100 days before November’s general election says Republican challenger Allen Weh is closing the gap with U.S. Sen. Tom Udall in New Mexico’s Senate race, although another recent poll says Udall has a comfortable lead.
The poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times Sunday showed Udall had a 7 percentage point lead over Weh. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.
However, a poll conducted July 21 and 22 by Rasmussen Reports indicates Udall had a 22-point lead over Weh. That poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Weh said Tuesday the CBS News/New York Times is encouraging.
“We’re not saying this is the final poll because it’s not, but it’s one of several that we’ve seen that all put this race within single digits,” Weh said. “We do believe this is going to be a tight race.”
The online poll of 930 persons conducted by YouGov for CBS News and the New York Times asked: “If the election for U.S. Senator from New Mexico were being held today and these were the candidates, who would you vote for?”
Forty-seven percent of respondents said Udall, while 40 percent said Weh.
Fence sitters were rare in the YouGov poll.
Four percent of respondents said they lean toward Weh, while 4 percent said they lean toward Udall.
Only 2 percent said they would not vote, 2 percent said they were not sure for whom they wold vote, and 2 percent said they would vote for someone other than Udall and Weh.
Udall did well with younger respondents. Sixty percent of respondents ages 18 to 29 said they would vote for Udall, while 19 percent said they would vote for Weh.
Udall also led Weh in all other age groups.
Udall also fared far better in the poll than Weh with women, while Weh had an advantage with men.
Fifty-one percent of women said they would vote for Udall, while Weh received support from 32 percent of women.
Forty-eight percent of men said they would vote for Weh, while 42 percent of men said they would vote for Udall.
Udall also had commanding leads among black and Hispanic respondents, and also a 46-41 edge among white respondents.
Weh’s campaign issued a news release Tuesday saying Weh is closing in on Udall and is within striking distance.
Paige McKenzie, a spokeswoman for Weh, said the gap between Udall and Weh is more narrow than several of the more high-profile Senate races that Republicans are targeting.
Democrats have a 55-45 advantage in the Senate over Republicans.
“For incumbents, what you see is what you get,” the Weh campaign quoted pollster Brian Tringali of the Tarrance Group, an Alexandria, Va.-based strategic research and polling firm. “This is going to be a tight race.”
Weh’s campaign said YouGov will conduct the same poll three more times before the Nov. 4 general election.
The telephone poll commissioned by Rasmussen Reports July 21 and 22 asked: “If the 2014 election for U.S. Senate was held today, would you vote for Republican Allen Weh or Democrat Tom Udall?”
The statewide Rasmussen poll of 750 likely New Mexico voters found Udall had support from 54 percent of likely voters, while Weh had 33 percent.
Three percent of Rasmussen respondents like some other candidate in the Senate race, while 10 percent were undecided.
Dan Sena, Udall’s campaign manager, said Udall is not taking the race lightly.
“I can tell you Tom is absolutely taking this race seriously,” Sena said. “He’s humbled and grateful for the support of thousands of New Mexicans who know he’s working every day to do what’s right for our state. He looks forward to continuing to visit with New Mexicans across the state and talk to them about the work he’s doing to create jobs by fighting for our labs and bases, support middle-class families and ensure veterans get the care they have earned.”
Udall was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, after representing New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District from 1999 to 2009. He was also New Mexico’s attorney general from 1991 to 1999.
Weh, chief executive officer of CSI Aviation of Albuquerque, finished second in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary. He’s a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who served two tours in Vietnam, one on the Persian Gulf War, in the U.S. expedition in Somalia, and in Iraq.