Democrats had hoped to make this a presidential battleground, but Bush won handily, 55 percent to 44 percent. Sen. John McCain (R) won a fourth term, defeating math teacher Stuart Starky (D) by a margin of more than 3 to 1. Freshman Rep. Rick Renzi started his reelection bid as one of the House's most vulnerable Republicans, but he easily defeated Paul Babbitt (D), brother of former governor and interior secretary Bruce E. Babbitt.
By 56 percent to 44 percent, voters also approved a controversial ballot initiative barring the state from granting welfare benefits to illegal immigrants.
New Mexico (5)
Measured in raw votes, New Mexico was the closest state in the nation four years ago, with Al Gore beating Bush by just 366 votes. This time, Bush has been declared the victor by some news organizations, with a lead of nearly 11,000 votes over Kerry. But election officials said it might be days before the state produces a definitive result because of large numbers of absentee and provisional ballots.
Exit polls showed that Bush scored significantly better than in 2000 among Hispanic voters (up 12 percentage points) and among women (up seven points) but slipped slightly among whites (down two points). Kerry's performance among Hispanics was particularly disappointing for Democrats, who put a big effort into registering new ethnic voters. Kerry won the urbanized counties of northern New Mexico handily, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, just as Bush won the more rural south.
Bush ran a smart campaign and built a solid organization in the state. New Mexico voters first got to know Bush when he was the governor-next-door in Texas, and that familiarity continued to sustain him. With New Mexico's four military bases, Bush had an additional built-in constituency in the state.
Kerry spent considerable time in New Mexico and prepped there for the Tempe, Ariz., debate. His domestic agenda, which focused on expanded access to health insurance and more money for education, played well among the state's Hispanic voters.
All three incumbent House members retained their seats, with comfortable majorities.
Bush won the state by 32 points (66 percent to 34 percent), a 10-point improvement on his performance in 2000.
Democrats lost a chance to pick up a Senate seat in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R). Former representative Tom Coburn, 56, a staunchly conservative, anti-establishment Republican with a knack for controversy, defeated Rep. Brad Carson (D), 37, a lawyer and Rhodes scholar who succeeded Coburn when he retired from the House in 2000. Coburn, an obstetrician, hit bumps this fall when he called for the death penalty for "abortionists" and said he had heard lesbianism was rampant in some parts of the state. Also, a former patient claimed he had sterilized her against her will, an allegation Coburn denied. Bush proved to be Coburn's biggest asset, helping to carry him to a 53 percent to 41 percent victory over Carson. State Rep. Dan Boren (D) won the race for Carson's House seat.
Bush, as expected, did very well in his home state, defeating Kerry by 61 percent to 38 percent. He did particularly well among Latinos (up by 16 percentage points) and women (up by 20 points).
It was also a big night for the House Republicans, who picked up four seats because of a contentious redistricting plan engineered by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Five Democratic congressmen -- Chet Edwards, Martin Frost, Nick Lampson, Max Sandlin and Charles W. Stenholm -- fought for their political lives, and all but Edwards lost. Two of the five, each with 26 years in the House, faced GOP incumbents: Rep. Pete Sessions vs. Frost, and Rep. Randy Neugebauer vs. Stenholm. Sandlin and Lampson lost to former Texas judges, Louis Gohmert and Ted Poe, while Edwards eked out a narrow win against state Rep. Arlene Wohlegemuth (R) despite being hit by a barrage of attack ads. Democrat Al Green and Republicans Mike Conaway, Kenny Marchant and Michael McCaul won open House seats.