ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico voters are deciding the outcome of the state's five electoral votes for the presidency along with an open Senate seat Tuesday in an election where Democrats believe they have the upper hand.

New Mexico has gone back and forth for the past three presidential cycles, and had been considered a battleground early on. But with polls this summer and autumn consistently showing President Barack Obama with a solid lead over GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the Republican National Committee in September pulled key staffers and sent them to more competitive states.

That changed in the final days as Romney's super PAC poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars into a last-minute television ad buy, and political observers were closely watching for clues into the latest partisan leaning of the state and its large Hispanic population.

New Mexico was considered solidly Democrat during the Clinton years and supported Al Gore by just 366 votes over George W. Bush in 2000. But the state went Republican for Bush in 2004, then followed the Democratic tide that elected Obama in 2008.

Because New Mexico two years later elected Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, pundits going into this year's presidential elections expected a tight race.

While Obama had a strong grassroots operation in New Mexico for almost a year leading up to the election, the president himself came to the state just once, stopping for a quick speech at an oil rig on his way from Nevada to Oklahoma. Romney visited the state once as well, announcing his energy policy on a stop in Hobbs, the heart of New Mexico oil country.


New Mexico voters also were selecting a new U.S. senator and a new congresswoman from Albuquerque.

For Senate, former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson and her successor, Democrat Martin Heinrich, were vying to replace retiring Democrat Jeff Bingaman in a race that could impact control of the Senate.

In Albuquerque, voters were choosing a replacement for Heinrich in Congress. Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, was running against former Republican state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones.