Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heller's popularity declining

An early appointment to the US Senate isn't doing Dean Heller's prospects for a full term any favors. Heller's statewide popularity has declined significantly over the first 7 months of 2011 and although he still leads Shelley Berkley by 3 points that's the closest we've ever found the race and a far cry from the 13 point lead he had over her in January.

The first time we polled Nevada this year 46% of voters had a favorable opinion of Heller to 23% with a negative one. He had a greater than 2:1 favorability ratio with independents at 47/23 and had almost as many Democrats (22%) holding a positive opinion of him as an unfavorable one (31%).

That picture has changed significantly. Now Heller's approval rating (not the exact same thing as the favorability we were measuring earlier in the year but pretty similar) is just 38% with 35% of voters disapproving of him. Independents still like him but only narrowly, breaking down 41/32 in their support for him. His appeal to Democrats has pretty much evaporated- their opinions of him now break down 12/59.

As Heller's personal popularity has declined so has his lead over Shelley Berkley. He led her 51-38 in January, now that advantage is only 46-43. What was a 28 point advantage with independents then is now only 3 points at 44-41. And where he was winning over 20% of the Democratic vote back in January, now he gets only 11% across party lines.

51% of the undecideds between Berkley and Heller are Democrats, while only 25% are Republicans. The high level of undecided Democrats is likely a function of Berkley being unknown to 33% of voters in the state. Assuming those voters would end up supporting their party's candidate in the end the race would be dead even.

Primary numbers we'll release later in the week make it clear that Byron Georgiou has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic Senate nomination but if by some chance he did he would start out 17 points behind Heller at 48-31. Georgiou has threatened in recent days to run as an independent but it's not really clear where his support would come from if he did that.

Only 27 respondents to our poll had a favorable opinion of Georgiou and if anything they're Republican leaning- they support Heller 61-39 over Berkley and go for Mitt Romney 46-39 over Barack Obama. It's too small a sample size to make much out of but it would seem to dispel the notion that Georgiou running third party would be particularly bad news for Berkley.

When we started polling this race at the start of the year it looked like it leaned toward the GOP but with each new survey now it's become more and more clear that it's a sheer toss up.

Full results here


Anonymous said...

Very, very interesting. I've thought for a while that this race has been underrated as a pickup for Democrats, and these results demonstrate its competitiveness. Thanks so much for polling!

I Am Iron Man said...

Looks like a great pick-up opportunity for the Democrats. With so many Dems up in the Senate next year - they are going to want to take advantage of this one.

Anonymous said...

Good chance for a D pickup, especially if he bungles his handling of some key votes.

Naman said...

Awesome. A prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats. Heller also voted against the debt deal from what I'm hearing.

Berkley still has a lot of room to grow, and hopefully she'll continue to do so.

Cletis said...

Hopefully, the Dem can pull this out in November. "Beware the wapacious, wascally Wepigs." E. Fudd

Anonymous said...


In the last two elections, polls seemed to underestimate Democratic support for President Obama and Senator Reid in Nevada. There was speculation that it was due to under-polling Hispanic voters. Have you done anything to adjust for this, or may it possibly be reasonable to expect Democrats to outperform their polling in Nevada?


Anonymous said...

In 2012 California Democrats went in large numbers to Nevada to campaign for Barack Obama. Some may have even changed legal residence to Nevada where their vote would better help the President.

Don't be surprised to see much of the same in 2012.

General Goose said...

Yeah, I'm going to assume that Nevada's polling may be a too harsh for Democrats, especially considering no polls last year came close to predicting the 6% lead Reid got. Hopefully Heller will make some controversial votes on immigration; his support for Ryancare is already great ammo for Berkeley.

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