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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Nevada -- 03

NV 03: Titus (D) +2

State Senator Dina Titus remains one of Democrats' best prospects for knocking off a Republican incumbent, a new poll shows. The DailyKos/Research 2000 poll surveyed 400 likely voters between 10/20-22 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Rep. Jon Porter and Titus were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Titus.....47 / 82 / 7 / 48 / 43 / 51
Porter...45 / 8 / 87 / 47 / 51 / 39

The south Clark County district is the fastest-growing in the country, and Democrats have shown incredible voter registration gains there. It's not that Porter's done anything to get fired, it's just that he now faces many more Democrats than Republicans.

NV 03: Dueling Polls

Polls released by both candidates running in a south Clark County, Nevada district could show a bit of Republican panic. Though he leads the survey conducted for his own campaign, it's been a while since we've seen an incumbent brag about earning 41% in a survey.

The poll taken for Republican Rep. Jon Porter's campaign by Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 400 likely voters between 9/23-24 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Porter and State Senator Dina Titus were tested.

General Election Matchup
Porter.......41
Titus........39

Democrat Titus released her own poll showing her significantly ahead. The survey, conducted for Titus' campaign by Anzalone Liszt Research, surveyed 500 likely voters between 9/21-24 for a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Porter and Titus were tested.

General Election Matchup
Titus........46
Porter.......37

The district, which takes in most of the suburbs south of Las Vegas, is changing rapidly, and many voters know Porter as much as they know Titus, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 (and actually won the Third District by two points).

Both polls show Porter viewed favorably by a plurality of district residents -- 44% favorable to 41% unfavorable in Titus' poll, 40% favorable to 31% unfavorable in Porter's survey. The polls also agree that Porter needs help: Forget who conducted the poll, an incumbent who can't get more than 41% in a horse race is in serious trouble.

NV 03: Titus Leads

Democrats have a good shot to pick up a seat in suburban Las Vegas, a new poll shows, as former gubernatorial candidate Dina Titus boasts a small but significant lead over Republican incumbent Jon Porter in one of the fastest-changing districts in the country.

The poll, conducted for Titus' campaign by Anzalone Liszt Research, surveyed 500 likely voters between 7/23-28 for a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Porter, Titus and three third-party candidates were tested among a sample that was evenly divided, with 42% registration for each party and 16% independents.

General Election Matchup
Titus....................43
Porter..................39
Other...................10

Titus....................50
Porter..................43

Generic Dem.......43
Generic GOPer...43

Titus, who won the district when she ran for governor in 2006, has higher job approval ratings than Porter within the district. As a state senator, voters give her a 56% positive rating, while 32% view her negatively; Porter is seen positively by 50% and 41% say they see him in a negative light. Still, the generic ballot question, which shows district residents split between the parties, is a good sign for Porter.

The three additional candidates include a Green Party dentist, a Libertarian teacher and an insurance agency owner representing the Independent American Party -- an offshoot of George Wallace's American Independent Party -- take votes from both candidates, but they're not likely to end up with the ten points they show in Titus' poll. In 2006, two third-party candidates took nearly 5% combined, as Porter won with 48.5%.

Porter, running for his fourth term, has to introduce himself to more voters than most incumbents. His Henderson-based district grew by 32% from 2000 to 2005, according to the Almanac of American Politics, making it the third-fastest growing district in the country, behind two Arizona seats.

South Vegas Race Tight

Even with a prominent recruit dropping out of the race late in the day, national Democrats could have a strong shot at taking back a fast-growing Congressional seat in the Las Vegas suburbs, a new poll out this weekend shows. The incumbent, Republican Rep. Jon Porter, is used to tense battles to keep his seat, and this year looks to be no different.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon on behalf of the Las Vegas Review Journal, tested 232 likely voters between 6/9-11, for a margin of error of +/- 6.6%. Porter and 2006 gubernatorial nominee and State Senator Dina Titus were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Porter.....45 / 16 / 76 / 51 / 53 / 37
Titus.......42 / 76 / 6 / 36 / 34 / 50

Porter's lead, already slim, faces some serious tests in the months ahead. Titus, who ran for governor in 2006 and narrowly lost to Republican Jim Gibbons, won the Third District by two points that year. And, after a surge of Democratic registrants in advance of the highly-anticipated January caucuses, the region now boasts 20,000 more Democrats than it does Republicans, a big increase from 2006.

It's already a narrow seat -- President Bush won in 2004 by 4,000 votes, while Al Gore beat him in 2000 by about 1,000 votes -- and with a Democratic surge, Porter could be in trouble. He narrowly beat a political unknown, Tessa Hafen, a former aide to Senator Harry Reid, in 2006, and running against Titus could be tougher.

Too, Porter has to work on his own image. Only 36% of his constituents thought he was doing an excellent or good job, while 56% rated him fair or poor, a terrible ratio and the worst of all five members of the state's congressional delegation, the statewide portion of the poll showed.

While the sample is small, the results are indicative that the race will once again be one of the closest in the country. The two will battle over the city's western and eastern suburbs, as well as Henderson, the second-largest city in Nevada, south to the border with Arizona and California.

Dems Lose Top NV Recruit

Nevada Democratic hopes of taking back a swing seat in Congress were dealt a blow yesterday when their top recruit abruptly withdrew from the race, citing family concerns. Robert Daskas, a former top prosecutor for Clark County, pulled out of the race Monday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Molly Ball reports today.

The Silver State's Third District, based in Henderson and suburban Las Vegas, has been one of Democrats' top targets in recent cycles. Republican incumbent Jon Porter won re-election in 2006 with just 48% of the vote, edging out a former top aide to Senator Harry Reid by just 4,000 votes despite outspending her by a two-to-one margin. President Bush carried the fast-growing district narrowly in 2004 after losing the seat by a slim margin in 2000.

Daskas' departure was unexpected, and fundraising, cited by several once-potential candidates this year, was certainly not the problem. He raised $233,000 in the First Quarter of 2008, leaving him with $453,000 in the bank. Porter raised $366,000 in the first three months of the year and retained $1.03 million on hand, an advantage, but hardly an overwhelming one.

Democrats have a backup candidate on hand, though she will start at an even steeper fundraising disadvantage given her late entry into the race. State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, who came surprisingly close to winning the governor's mansion in 2006, said she is seriously considering the race, and that she has been in close contact with top Nevada and Washington Democrats.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quick to add their support. "Dina Titus would be an excellent candidate with unparalleled experience and support from people in Nevada's 3rd congressional district," DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen said in a statement. "Her vision, strength, and ability to get things done for Nevada would make her a powerful voice for change."

The National Republican Congressional Committee hammered Titus for her loss two years ago, when she lost to Republican Governor Jim Gibbons by four points even after Gibbons was accused of improper behavior by a cocktail waitress. "Dina Titus should think long and hard before launching a second long-shot campaign. Two losses in a row would be career-ending for her," NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley said in a statement this morning. Ball, though, writes that Titus beat Gibbons in the Third District by two points.

Titus has said that a decision on her entry into the race will come by the end of the week. Porter, who has survived two close contests in recent years, has to be breathing better today, though Titus will prove no easy opponent. The incumbent has worked hard to keep his seat, and he is unlikely to be caught by surprise by Titus' challenge.

Dems' Vegas Vacation

Republican Jon Porter of Nevada's fast-growing Third District will most likely face another tough race for his suburban Las Vegas seat. Kerry barely lost the 3rd by 50%-49%. Porter won the seat in 2002 when the district was newly created following the 2000 census. Porter faced a tough re-election in 2006 when he weathered tough criticism from opponent Tessa Haffen, a former aide to Senator Harry Reid. Porter barely outlasted Haffen, winning a nail biter 48%-47%.

This time around, Porter will face one of a host of potential challengers running in the Democratic primary. The establishment picks seems to be Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas, though Daskas has to get through a primary against CPA and fraud examiner Andrew Martin. Rory Reid, chair of the Clark County Commission, son of Senator Reid, is also said to be a potential candidate.

The younger Reid's organization was instrumental in Hillary Clinton's victory in Nevada's caucuses in January, and would likely make a strong candidate against Porter. Still, national Democrats remain bullish on Daskas, should Reid forgo his own bid.

Although he originally supported Rudy Giuliani in the Republican Presidential Primary, Porter will be one of many Republican Congressmen happy to have John McCain heading the ticket this year. While Porter has successfully attracted independents in the past with his more moderate views on social issues, he needs all the help he can get in a district where registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans.

Democrats will paint Porter as a Bush Republican for his steadfast support for the war in Iraq. Porter is one of the prime targets of MoveOn.org and other Democratic-leaning groups seeking to link the war with the struggling economy. In a district that came close to casting their votes for Kerry four years ago, those attempts could prove fruitful.

Preparing his defense, Porter has become more outspoken in his attempt to distance himself from the party and cast himself in an independent light. He was one of the first Republicans last year to call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation and he voted to override Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Porter did not join GOP colleagues in walking out during a vote on contempt citations for Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers.

Paying attention to local issues, Porter recently proposed a companion to John Kerry's mortgage refinance bill in the Senate, which would help state and local housing agencies refinance mortgages and thus create better rates for homeowners. Clark County, along with the rest of Nevada, has been particularly hard-hit by the housing crisis.

Still, Porter is one of many Republicans in swing districts this year hoping 2006 was the Democrats' best chance at knocking off vulnerable GOP incumbents. But as Nevada changes, so too has Porter's district -- the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the district grew more than 33% in the five years between 2000 and 2005. With so many new voters, Porter will not likely face an easy re-election bid in the near future.

-- Greg Bobrinskoy