NV-Sen: Berkley Catching up to Heller

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (3/21-24, Nevada voters, 1/3-5 in parens):

Shelley Berkley (D): 43 (38)

Dean Heller (R): 47 (51)

Undecided: 10 (11)

Byron Georgiou (D): 28

Dean Heller (R): 52

Undecided: 20

(MoE: ±4.4%)

Rep. Shelley Berkley’s favorables have barely budged, and this poll’s partisan composition is little changed from January’s. So what explains the swift tightening here? It turns out that Dean Heller is actually a Republican elected official, and, well, Democrats don’t really like Republicans – once they know who they are:

The main thing fueling Berkley’s gain is that Democratic voters have soured on Heller since he launched his Senate campaign, significantly cutting into his crossover support. In January Heller posted a pretty decent 22/31 favorability spread with Democrats, allowing him a 46/23 breakdown overall. Now just 16% of Democrats express a positive view of him and 48% have a negative one. That’s caused his net favorability to drop 9 points from +23 to now +14 at 43/29.

Given that Democratic voters don’t like him as much anymore it’s no surprise that they’re also not as inclined to vote for Heller as they were earlier this year. In January Berkley had only a 44 point lead over Heller with Democratic voters at 64-20. Now it’s a 63 point lead at 76-13 and that 19 point shift in her direction within her own party is the main reason she now has the race within the margin of error.

This trend is only going to get worse for Heller, not better, as he’ll soon soar to prominence once Gov. Brian Sandoval taps him to replace John Ensign. Meanwhile, Berkley actually has a lot more upside among members of her own party than Heller has with his. Dems like Berkley by a 59-9 margin while Republicans adore Heller at a 74-10 rate. This translates to Heller winning 86% of Republicans while Berkley takes just 76% of Democrats – but it’s almost a guarantee that Berkley’s numbers with Dems will improve. Harry Reid got 91% of Ds against Sharron Angle last year and even Jack Carter got 81% in 2006. And trust me: Shelley Berkley’s no Jack Carter.

Oh, and speaking of that pending appoinment for Heller, Tom Jensen threw in an extra question about whether Nevadans are happy with the prospect of Sandoval naming a replacement, or whether they’d prefer to vote on the choice. Respondents chose “vote” by a 53-44 margin. At the end of the day, I don’t know how much people really care about this sort of thing, but perhaps Democrats will be able to make some hay out of Heller getting skipped to the head of the class. At the very least, it’ll paint a big target on his back, and I’m not sure I’d necessarily want the supposed advantages of incumbency in a race like this – not when greater prominence seems to be translating into crappier performance at the polls.

90 thoughts on “NV-Sen: Berkley Catching up to Heller”

  1. Here there was initially confusion and what all entailed because of the resignation.  Are we looking at Appointment + Special election or Appointment and General Election?

  2. This is the best case scenario for Republicans right now. Again, I looked at the internals and noticed PPP again undersampled Latinos, young voters, and maybe even Las Vegas folk overall. And considering Obama will be back on the ballot next year, Dean Heller shouldn’t bank on the November 2012 voter pool looking like this.

  3. Rumblings have another attempt at passing the DREAM Act as soon as next week.  Heller’s very first senate vote could be against the DREAM Act.  Ha!

  4. Heller is appointed, is now forced to vote for the Medicare budget again in the Senate, he switches his vote because he “represents the entire state now”.  This sets off tea baggers, who find someone less shitty than Sharrrrrrrrron Angle, but still unelectable.  (Heller will be a moderate appointed Senator as this point.)  Berkley easily wins and then we win NV-2 as the cherry on top.

  5. How accurate are polls in Presidential years when the top of the ticket on one side isn’t even known yet?

    I mean Romney at the top of the ticket will do better than Pawlenty on the top of the ticket in Nevada one would assume.  

  6. I don’t know how much people really care about this sort of thing, but perhaps Democrats will be able to make some hay out of Heller getting skipped to the head of the class.

    I don’t think it makes a ton of difference either, but it’ll be a close race, so why not.

    I think an argument could be made that appointing a non-sitting GOPer would save the state money that an election in NV-02 would cost, and the GOP is willing to do everything and anything to save us, the taxpayer, money….aren’t they?

    (I know its a silly argument to make, but why not?)

    1. The delegation of the states bordering Canada, east of WA and west of WI, are very against the DREAM Act or any pragmatic form of immigration reform for some reason.

      1. I’m not saying the netroots or the activists are the “base”, but activists play very important roles in elections.

        Who do you think is “the base”?

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