Rather Surprising New Nevada Data

July 21, 2015 — A new Senate survey gives credence to another data set that only last week looked like an anomaly. The pollsters also provide new presidential data.

Gravis Marketing (GM) polled both parties’ presidential prospects and the important open Nevada US Senate race. Their latter numbers confirmed last week’s Fabrizio Lee analysis that gave Republican Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3) a huge lead over Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the state’s former two-term attorney general.

Gravis (July 12-13; 1,276 registered Nevada voters, 623 likely Nevada Republican primary participants, 416 Democratic primary voters, 237 likely general election voters only) projects that Donald Trump is opening up a large lead in the Republican presidential race, while finding Hillary Clinton scoring within her average performance zone of the last three weeks. But, their use of identified party members who won’t participate in the primary and the way some of the questions are asked create methodological concerns.

GM’s Nevada numbers show Trump scoring 27.7 percent, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 15.0 percent, and Dr. Ben Carson posting 7.8 percent to place third. Over 20 percent of the respondent universe said they are “unsure” about their choice.

For the Democrats, Clinton is staked to a 55-18 percent lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here, 11.9 percent of the respondents reported being unsure about their presidential choice. Though she is not running in 2016, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren places third with 7.6 percent, ahead of a poor showing from Vice President Joe Biden (4.5 percent) who may announce a run in September. Three official candidates, former Rhode Island senator and governor, Lincoln Chafee, ex-Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and previous Maryland governor and mayor of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley all placed under 1.2 percent.

The Gravis sample sizes are adequate, but adding general election voters to the sample who say they won’t participate in the nominating process likely accounts for Trump’s larger lead.

Additionally, the language surrounding whether the respondent would vote in the Nevada “primary” is inaccurate. A caucus, which requires a much greater individual time commitment, is more involved than simply going to the polling place and casting a ballot. This distinction clearly makes a major difference as to whether a person participates or not, meaning the aforementioned abnormalities likely render this poll unreliable and possibly irrelevant.

Last week we reported on two surveys that provided diametrically opposed results for the state’s open Senate race. GM’s primary methodological flaws are not an issue for this general election contest since both Rep. Heck and Masto are already their respective parties’ presumed nominees. The general election sample of 1,276 is robust. Hispanics are under-represented in the polling sample, however, which likely boosts the Republican candidate somewhat. The demographic group comprises 27.5 percent of the overall state population, but accounts for only 16 percent of this particular respondent universe.

According to Gravis, Rep. Heck enjoys a 49-35 percent lead over Masto, very similar to last week’s Fabrizio Lee report of 50-36 percent. Public Policy Polling, also surveying Nevada last week, found the opposite result giving Masto a slight 42-41 percent edge.

It would appear that, based upon recent Nevada voting history, the PPP number is likely the more accurate. But, with two polls conducted in the same time realm drawing virtually the same opposite conclusion means these latter results must be taken more seriously.

In any event, even adding the PPP poll to the mix, the early race numbers have been very kind to Rep. Heck. This being the case, Democrats’ chances of holding outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat must now be considered no better than even. Winning the open Nevada seat would likely give the Republicans a virtual lock on holding their majority.

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