Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto clung to a small lead over Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in a new poll, the second recent survey of Nevada voters to show a competitive race ahead of midterm elections in 2022.
Cortez Masto led Laxalt, the former state attorney general, 45.5% to 41.2% in a poll of 600 likely voters for the nonpartisan Nevada Independent conducted Sept. 15–22 by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman. The survey follows an internal poll by the Laxalt campaign from Sept. 11–15 that showed the Republican edging the Democratic incumbent 39% to 37%.
The survey from Mellman also showed Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak polling above two potential Republican opponents.
“Each race has its own individual dynamics, individual candidates, individual faux paus people make,” Mellman told the Nevada-based media outlet. “But what we see so far, as we said at the outset, are a set of what are likely to be very close, very competitive, very tough races.”
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Nevada is a tricky state to poll, and surveys of the state’s voters are notoriously unreliable. But Mellman for years was a senior pollster for Democrat Harry Reid, the former Nevada senator who was Senate majority leader and compiled a solid track record of producing accurate data on voter sentiment in the state.
That suggests Democrats can take some comfort from this poll amid President Joe Biden’s political troubles — but not too much.
Sisolak led Republican former Sen. Dean Heller 45.8% to 43.3% and was virtually tied with Republican Joe Lombardo, the Clark County Sheriff, topping him 44.9% to 44.4%. Laxalt has a primary but is expected to cruise to the nomination.
Meanwhile, Cortez Masto enjoyed a significantly higher favorable rating than Laxalt, sporting a 42%/37% favorable/unfavorable rating compared to Laxalt’s 28% favorable/3% unfavorable score.
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However, only 34% of voters believe the incumbent is doing a good job as a senator.
Biden narrowly defeated former President Donald Trump in Nevada last November. In this survey, the president enjoyed a higher favorable rating (48%) than his predecessor (44%.) The poll had an error margin of 4 percentage points.