Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid conceded the race for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District to incumbent Republican Heather Wilson today, even though the final margin of 875 votes is less than one-half of one percent of the total number of votes cast.
In many other states, such a small vote differential would automatically trigger a state-funded recount—but not in relatively poor New Mexico (the state’s coffers are filled —or not filled—by taxes from the third-lowest per capita income in the nation). A recount is expected to cost between $250,000 and $300,000, but the Democrats don’t have the money. Madrid notes that a single-vote swing in each precinct would reverse the outcome.
With such a small differential and State Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim accusing state Republicans of “systematic vote suppression” (Democrats had to file suit against Republicans calling non-republican voters with misleading information) the 2006 race for NM’s 1st looks to have gone the way of Florida’s 13th District and other places in the nation where misleading and harassing phone calls paid for by the GOP—one of the “dirtier, yet mostly legal, tricks in a political operative’s bag of last-minute campaign tools“—may have tipped the balance in some very tight Congressional races.