Decision 2020: Xochitl Torres-Small vs. Yvette Herrell (NM-02)

Lauren Chu ’23

Xochitl Torres-Small is a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives and represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. The district serves the southern half of New Mexico, including Las Cruces, Roswell, and a southern portion of Albuquerque. It is also the fifth largest district in the U.S.

NM-02 in Blue. Department of the Interior via Wikimedia Commons.

Running against incumbent Torres-Small in the district’s upcoming general election is Yvette Herrell (R) . Steve Jones (I) will also be running in the race as a third-party candidate. Between Torres-Small and Herrell, this will be the second general election. Back in 2018, Torres-Small won the election by a slim margin of 51% against Herrell’s 49%. Prior to Torres-Small’s 2018 victory, the last Democratic representative of the Second Congressional District was Harry Teague in 2011.

Xochitl Torres-Small. Via Ballotpedia.

Torres-Small is a liberal Democrat, who aims to champion economic growth, support of small businesses, and an affordable healthcare plan. Coming from a family of immigrants herself with humble beginnings, she especially is in support of fair border security and immigration policies, and supporting her state’s education system to create brighter opportunities for younger generations. Some of the committees and causes that Congresswoman Torres-Small  serves on are the Armed Services Committee, Homeland Security Committee, and the Agricultural Committee. She also is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and New Dems Coalition.

Candidate Herrell identifies as a conservative Republican who wants to create job opportunities and protect the mining and energy industries. With this in mind, she also aims to make opportunities for taking up trade skills and other work to be more accessible in public education, and helping to train students who may not want to take the path of college post-graduation. She also backs other common conservative ideals, such as supporting the Second Amendment, the pro-life movement, middle-income tax cuts, and finishing the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico to create staunch border security and immigration policies.

In the past 20 years, this district has overwhelmingly voted Republican in presidential elections, but held a democratic majority in 2018’s Senate race. Even in presidential elections, the percentages that resulted in the Republican majority were by fairly close margins, only ranging from a 1 to 17 percent difference. The district is largely urban, making up 71% of the area, with the other 29% consisting of rural towns. The ethnic makeup of its constituents is predominantly Caucasian and Hispanic.

Yvette Herrell. Via Ballotpedia.

The Second District of New Mexico became one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat that voted for Donald Trump (R) in the 2016 presidential election. Trump received 50% of the vote to opponent Hillary Clinton’s (D) 40% in the district. This district’s race is one of the 23 U.S. House rematches in the upcoming election this year since candidates Torres-Small and Herrell are both running against each other a second time. Partisan control of this district in the House of Representatives will be dependent on the election’s outcome. It will determine whether or not there will be a flipped seat within the House for the Second Congressional District. This year, all seats in the House are currently up for election, with Democrats being the majority party.

The Second Congressional District’s election is a battleground race, meaning that there is closely divided support for both the Democrat and Republican candidates. In September 2020, Herrell was endorsed by President Trump (R), and Torres-Small received endorsement by the US Chamber of Commerce.

Projections predict that Democrats have a higher chance of retaining the majority and keeping control of the House. With many Democrats wanting President Trump to remain a one-term president, there would need to be a major political realignment for Democrats to be at risk of losing their majority. With the instance of New Mexico in particular, however, the First and Third districts have a solid chance of remaining blue. However, in Torres-Small’s 2nd Congressional District, it is predicted to be a toss-up, which leaves the chances of Torres-Small remaining in office to be uncertain at the moment.

With the upcoming presidential and local elections, the Coronavirus pandemic has opened a door for an option of mail-in voting. As seen in past months, the idea has grown to be controversial since there is a common worry among many constituents that their vote may not be counted through this system, with some even going as far to believe that it may pose a threat to our democracy due to the potential for election fraud. In regards to the presidential election, projections say that the 2020 presidency is more favorably leaning towards Democratic candidate Joe Biden. New Mexico, in particular, is also predicted to likely be blue, with their five electoral votes looking to be likely in favor of the democratic party. Overall, New Mexico’s Second Congressional District holds great importance for the election on the House of Representatives, especially due to the district having a possibility of a seat being turned over to the Republican party.


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