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Week of 10.3.08

New Voters in the New West

A 2009 winner of The Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism

This election year, the most crucial battleground states may fall far west of the Mississippi. Strategists say New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado are pivotal to Senator McCain's success, so how are these voters being courted?

This week, NOW on PBS travels to New Mexico to see how both campaigns are hoping to attract—and secure—first time voters on college campuses, as well as voters in New Mexico's large Hispanic population. It's clearly anyone's game—this southwestern state was won by fewer than 400 votes in 2000, and 6,000 votes in 2004.

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NOW sits down with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a supporter of Barack Obama and a former 2008 presidential contender himself, who affirms the political importance of the "New West."

"Had Kerry won those states [in 2004]," Richardson tells Maria Hinojosa, "even having lost Ohio, he'd be President."

Will the New West play a key role in determining the fate of the country?

Related Links

ABQ Journal: Doña Ana South Valley Could Swing State for Obama

Brennan Center for Justice: Election Day Issues

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement: Voting Trends by Race, Ethnicity and Gender

Harvard Institute of Politics: Eight Years of Polling the Youth Vote (pdf)

Research & Polling, Inc: 2004 Election Results, New Mexico (pdf)

Student Public Interest Groups are independent state-based student organizations that work to solve public interest problems related to the environment, consumer protection, and government reform. Find the Student PIRG in your state.

In the News

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CNN: Polls Show Obama Gaining in Swing States

Newsweek: A New Latino Mix—Florida's electorate gets more complex. Who benefits?

Pew Hispanic Center: Hispanic Voter Attitudes

Politico's Swing State Map

Time: The Year of the Youth Vote