April 2, 2015 — Gravis Marketing is the first to test the Nevada electorate since Sen. Harry Reid (D) announced his retirement, but their flash poll results are difficult to follow. The methodology appears to substantially over-sample Republicans, yet the Democrats inconsistently fare much better on the ballot test questions.
On March 27, Gravis utilized the Interactive Voice Response system to question 850 registered Nevada voters. Within this universe, 443 respondents are self-identified Republicans compared with 319 Democrats; 88 individuals did not state a party preference.
In Nevada, however, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, thus making this sampling universe almost the exact opposite of reality. According to the 2015 state voter registration statistics as reported by the Secretary of State, 40.2 percent of the registrants are Democrats, 33.4 percent are Republicans, and 26.4 percent are Independent or affiliated in some other fashion. The survey universe features 52.1 percent who self-identify as Republicans, 37.5 percent Democrats, and just 10.3 percent Independent/Other.
Though Gravis claims the general election results are weighted to reflect the proper demographics, one should question this particular political survey’s methodology. The weighting formula would have to be extreme to bring this sampling universe into parity with the general electorate, meaning the results should be considered unreliable.
If the conclusions drawn from this particular sample are anywhere close to accurate, then the Republicans are in serious trouble in the battle to succeed Sen. Reid because the early results clearly favor the Democratic candidates. Of the four tested Republicans, only Gov. Brian Sandoval places ahead of either Democratic Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) or former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Additionally, three of the four tested Republicans are unlikely to run: Sandoval, Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and 2010 senatorial nominee Sharron Angle. The only tested probable candidate is state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson. Rep. Titus leads Roberson 48-41 percent, while Masto enjoys a more sizable 47-35 percent advantage.
Sen. Reid has already endorsed Ms. Masto, but the former state attorney general has yet to give any public indication that she is planning to enter the 2016 campaign. Rep. Titus, on the other hand, is considering running for the seat.
While the Gravis results are dubious in relation to the Senate race, they may be more accurate for the tested intra-party contests. The survey questioned respondents about their presidential preferences.
For the Democrats, if this poll is any indication, Hillary Clinton seems to have rebounded from the email controversy that dominated the news coverage for a number of days. According to Gravis, Clinton is back over 60 percent Democratic preference, 61 percent in this case. Her closest challenger is again Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (15 percent), who reiterates that she will not be a presidential candidate in 2016. The most telling result is Vice President Joe Biden’s awful three percent showing.
For Republicans, the polling sample gives Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) a big bounce; likely from the publicity he received for officially announcing his candidacy. He vaults into a tie with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 18 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush scoring 16 percent. None of the seven other named candidates even broke into double-digits.
As we know, the Nevada caucus is one of the first four states to vote on the presidential nomination schedule, coming directly after Iowa and New Hampshire. Therefore, this electorate for both parties is one that will attract significant campaign attention.
The Gravis effort is the first of many polls to be conducted in Nevada during the coming months. It is likely that the vast majority of the future studies will provide more reliable conclusions, however.