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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Nevada -- 02

NV: Heller +5

With one of their party's incumbents already in trouble, Nevada Republicans could have a bumpy ride ahead in the Silver State's other, more conservative district, according to a new poll. Forget Rep. Jon Porter, who has a strong challenger in the state's southern Third District; now, according to the poll, even freshman Republican Dean Heller is in trouble.

The Research 2000 poll, conducted for the Reno Gazette-Journal and KTVN, surveyed 400 likely voters between 8/18-20 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Heller and former State Democratic Party chair and 2006 candidate Jill Derby were tested.

General Election Matchup
Heller........47
Derby.........42

In a district in which President Bush won by a sixteen-point margin in 2004, Heller defeated Derby by just five points in 2006. Two years later, Derby is running close again, and in a rapidly-growing district that contains 95% of the land mass of Nevada, the race looks like another close finish.

Democrats are enthusiastic about the district thanks to recent voter registration gains. The party picked up 15,000 new voters in the Second District, according to the Secretary of State's office, while Republicans lost 4,000 voters of their own. The 19,000-voter swing, Democrats hope, will be enough to erase Heller's 13,000-vote win from 2006.

With Porter already facing a tough race against State Senator Dina Titus, the last thing Nevada Republicans need is a second competitive race targeting one of their incumbents.

Give 'Em Heller

While Rep. Jon Porter may be in trouble in his Third District, any Republican freshman elected in 2006 should, given the terrible year their party endured, be set for life. And though he faced a surprisingly close contest during his first race, Republican Rep. Dean Heller is in much better position now, a new poll shows.

The survey, taken by Mason-Dixon on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, tested 230 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 6.6%. Heller, the former Secretary of State, and ex-state Democratic Party chair Jill Derby were tested.

General Election Matchup
Heller...........53
Derby..........39

This is the second time the candidates will face each other in a general election. In 2006, Derby came surprisingly close to beating Heller, losing by a narrow 50%-45% margin. Since that election, when 48,000 more Republicans were registered in the district than Democrats, Derby's party has made up some of that gap; now, the gap has decreased to a 30,000-voter advantage for the GOP, a margin that a Democrat could overcome.

But Heller is popular. 52% of voters in his district said he was doing an excellent or good job, while just 22% said his performance was fair or poor. Heller also has a significant cash advantage, with $808,000 on hand through the end of March compared with just $133,000 for Derby. In 2006, Heller outspent Derby by a small margin, $1.67 million to $1.59 million.

Heller is in good position to keep his seat, which encompasses more than 95% of Nevada's land. The district encompasses Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Ely, virtually every part of the state and some of Clark County -- essentially, everything but Las Vegas, Henderson and the immediate suburbs.