Tag Archives: Nevada

New Tight Nevada Polling

By Jim Ellis

Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Oct. 6, 2021 — The Nevada Independent online news site commissioned a September Mellman Group statewide poll (Sept. 15-22; 600 likely Nevada voters, live interview) just as former US Sen. Dean Heller (R) was announcing that he will join the Republican field vying to challenge Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). The results and analysis were released Monday.

The pollsters also tested the US Senate race between first-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R). Both the gubernatorial and the US Senate contest returned close general election projections.

Nevada has featured close elections in the previous decade leading up to the 2022 voting cycle. Of the 18 statewide electoral contests between and including 2012 and 2020, Democrats have averaged 49.0 percent of the vote and Republicans’ 45.2 percent. In eight of the 18 campaigns, the winner recorded only plurality support.

During the time span, Democrats won 10 statewide races and Republicans won eight, but the GOP has scored only one victory since 2016. Therefore, it is not surprising to again see close polling data, and we can expect similar results throughout the campaign cycle.

According to the Mellman data, Gov. Sisolak would lead ex-Sen. Heller, 46-43 percent, but the small margin tightens even further if Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo were to win the Republican nomination. In the Sisolak-Lombardo pairing, the governor edges the sheriff by half a percentage point, 44.9 – 44.4 percent.

In the Republican primary, asked of only those who said they plan to vote in that contest though the sample number was not released, Heller led Sheriff Lombardo, 31-23 percent, with former professional boxer Joey Gilbert and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee trailing with 11 and three percent, respectively.

On the positive side for Gov. Sisolak, his favorability index is only slightly upside-down at 46:48 percent, despite his handling of the COVID-19 virus getting a heavy 38:59 percent negative rating. He leads in all-important Clark County by 10 and seven points against Heller and Lombardo, respectively.

The governor saw a negative reading coming from Washoe County (Reno), however, which tends to act as a bellwether of the Nevada vote and an entity that Sisolak carried in 2018 against then-Attorney General Laxalt. The Mellman poll posted Heller to an eight-point lead over Sisolak in Washoe, while Sheriff Lombardo enjoyed a six-point edge.

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Nevada’s Gubernatorial Race:
Ex-Sen. Heller Announces

By Jim Ellis

Former Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R)

Sept. 22, 2021 — The Silver State of Nevada has been home to some of the nation’s closest statewide elections during the past decade. In almost half of all Nevada statewide political contests since 2012, both party’s nominees have won their elections with only plurality support.

With that backdrop, ex-US Sen. Dean Heller (R), who lost his seat to current incumbent Jacky Rosen (D) in 2018, is making a political comeback attempt in next year’s governor’s race. Heller officially announced his plans Monday after the story broke last week that he would become a candidate.

Part of the announcement came as a surprise, and has more to do with winning the Republican primary than for what he hopes will be a challenge to incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Heller, who throughout his career had aligned himself with the pro-choice caucus, pointedly spoke approvingly of the new Texas law governing abortion practices.

In the Republican primary, Heller faces Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee among others. At this point, Gov. Sisolak has no announced Democratic opposition.

According to a July OH Predictive Insights poll (July 6-11; 783 registered Nevada voters), which is the latest Nevada gubernatorial survey available, Gov. Sisolak recorded a 52:39 percent job approval ratio. As with most polls in today’s politics, the bulk of support comes from members of one’s own party, but in this case, 30 percent of the sampled Republicans also gave the governor a positive review.

Gov. Sisolak, a former Clark County Commissioner who previously served as a member of the Nevada Board of Regents, was elected the state’s chief executive three years ago with a 49-45 percent win over then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), grandson of former US senator and Nevada governor, Paul Laxalt (R). Laxalt is also making a political comeback in 2022, running against incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto (D) for the US Senate.

Both the ’22 Nevada governor and US Senate have the potential of ending in close fashion. Since 2012, inclusive, 18 statewide races have been conducted. Democrats won 10 and Republicans’ eight, but six of the GOP victories came in the Republican wave year of 2014 when the Nevada Democratic turnout proved particularly low.

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The New Mexico Ploy

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 15, 2021 — During the last week reports were surfacing that suggested the New Mexico State Democratic leadership was considering ways to turn the current 2D-1R congressional map into a 3D-0R plan. This might be easier said than done, however.

New Mexico is one of the Democrats’ 15 “trifecta states,” meaning the party controls all three legs of the redistricting stool: the state Senate, state House, and governor’s mansion. Republicans have 23 trifectas. Therefore, if the Democrats are to minimize the redistricting damage, or even possibly come out slightly ahead, they must fully use their political leverage in the states they control.

Of the Democrats’ 15 trifectas, however, five of the states handle redistricting through a commission, and in another five the party already controls all the congressional seats. Therefore, if they are to make a national redistricting play they must take maximum advantage in Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon. The lay of the land, however, makes it very difficult to expand their fortunes in Nevada and possibly Oregon, which is why trying to take an extra seat from New Mexico makes some sense from a national Democratic perspective.

New Mexico has three congressional seats, all of which a freshman represents. The 1st (Rep. Melanie Stansbury; D-Albuquerque) and 3rd Districts (Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez; D-Santa Fe) in the northern part of the state are safely Democratic.

The southern 2nd District (Rep. Yvette Herrell; R-Alamogordo), which encompasses almost all of the territory south of Albuquerque, has performed as a Republican seat at the congressional level in 19 of the last 21 elections. Democrats picked up the district in their recent wave election years (2006; 2018) with open seat victories, but the voters favored the Republican challenger in both successive elections. This, despite NM-2 being a majority Hispanic district: 53.7 percent of the overall population according to the previous census data.

Additionally, the current seats are not widely out of population balance. The 1st District needs to gain just 11,264 people, while the 2nd must shed 8,181 individuals, and the 3rd must relinquish 3,082 residents. Therefore, a radical re-draw that results in a sweep of the three districts for one party when the population swings are so small would certainly draw a political gerrymandering lawsuit upon adoption of the new map. Whether such a lawsuit would succeed of course is a question that can only be answered when the final map is drawn and enacted.

Likely, the only way to draw a 3D-0R map in New Mexico would be to keep the northern 3rd District Democratic seat virtually intact, and then draw the Republican 2nd into Albuquerque. This would cause the city and Bernalillo County to be split resulting in the 1st and 2nd then appearing as southwestern and southeastern seats that divide Albuquerque, and subsequently stretch all the way to the Mexican border.

Even this draw might make it difficult to create three Democratic seats because the southeastern district would still have the potential of being Republican enough to make the party’s candidate, in this case Rep. Herrell, strong enough to have a chance of winning a general election.

New Mexico is a good example as how a largely internal state exercise can transform itself to help achieve a national partisan goal. It remains to be seen just how bold the New Mexico Democrats will be, as this small and sometimes obscure state steps into the national redistricting limelight.

A Nevada Stunner

First-term Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).
Is there re-election trouble brewing?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 30, 2021 — A publicly released Nevada US Senate survey released late last week revealed an eye-opening result. According to the VCreek/AMG poll conducted for the conservative Americas PAC (Aug. 9-14; 567 registered Nevada voters, live interview), former attorney general and recently announced US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt (R) holds a stunning 42-32 percent lead over first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

Cortez Masto was elected in 2016, defeating then-US Rep. Joe Heck (R), 47-45 percent, in another of Nevada’s typically close recent elections. Prior to winning the Senate seat, Cortez Masto served as the state’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015, winning two statewide elections for that position with substantial percentage margins, 59-36 percent in 2006 and 53-36 percent in 2010.

Preparing for what she believes will be a close contest, the senator has already raised $11.6 million in her first term and held a whopping $6.58 million in her campaign account at the June 30th Federal Election Commission finance reporting deadline.

The biggest surprise among the segmented numbers was Sen. Cortez Masto’s poor standing within her own Democratic Party. Her base vote was only 60 percent among those respondents who describe themselves as “strong” Democrats. Her preference was just 50 percent within the cell calling themselves “regular” Democrats. Among Republicans, she was taking three percent from the “strong” Republicans and recorded 13 percent support among the regulars.

Laxalt’s partisan numbers were better. He was holding 78 percent of those calling themselves strong Republicans, but a lower 62 percent from the “regular red” voters. Among Democrats, he was performing slightly better than a typical GOP candidate. Within the strong Democratic cell, he scored 10 percent preference, but reached 20 percent from the regular Democrat segment.

The moderates, or those who V/Creek terms “purple,” may be the senator’s greatest concern. Within this important segment, Laxalt held a 40-29 percent advantage. The Cortez Masto partisan numbers among Democrats will eventually return to form meaning that the 2022 Senate race will likely transform into another typically close Nevada campaign: hence, the enhanced importance of where this “purple” group falls.

To gain the Senate majority in the next election, Republicans need additional targets especially with having so many more seats to defend (20R-14D in the 2022 cycle).

Democrats appear well positioned to convert Pennsylvania and hold the pair of 2020 special election winners who must run for a six-year term next year, Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA). In addition to the New Hampshire race, particularly if Gov. Chris Sununu (R) challenges first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), the Nevada contest may be the only other GOP conversion opportunity on their board.

The other two questions VCreek posed to the sample participants related to election fraud and the Senate filibuster. A total of 73 percent of the sampling universe rates election security as “very important.” Relating to the filibuster, which has attracted much attention in the previous months, 59 percent said they favor keeping the 60-vote cloture rule intact.

VCreek/AMG is graded a B/C survey research firm according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization’s 2021 pollster rankings. The group, headed by analyst Nate Silver, forecasts elections, and annually rates the polling community.

This year, the ranking survey totals 482 research entities from which VCreek/AMG ranks 378th. FiveThirtyEight categorizes V/Creek/AMG with a slight Democratic bias of 0.4. In the current 538 report, however, the ranking was based on a small number of VCreek surveys, meaning a larger sample would likely propel the firm to a higher rating.

Regardless of whether this VCreek/AMG poll is accurate or flawed, expect the Democrats to quickly counter with numbers showing Sen. Cortez Masto in much stronger re-election position. If Laxalt remains close, however, this race will quickly enter the competitive top tier.

Census by District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 17, 2021 — We can now see exactly where each congressional district in the country stands in terms of population. The Census Bureau delivered the state redistricting data last week, and the Daily Kos Elections site data team segmented the numbers into individual congressional districts.

Below is a chart of the 38 states that have more than two districts, isolating the CDs that are the most over and under populated. The “High” column depicts the district that is the most over-populated in the state, while the “Low” is the one requiring the most new residents. The “+/-” column shows how many districts in the particular state are over and under populated.

The most robust district is that of Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Richmond). His southwest Houston seat houses just under one million people, at an exact count of 972,309. The least populated seat is West Virginia’s 3rd District (Rep. Carol Miller-R): 326,267 people under quota. With all of the Mountain State seats seriously down, it is clear as to why West Virginia lost a seat in reapportionment.

There are only two states, Colorado and Oregon, where all of the current districts are over-populated. Both entities gain one seat in reapportionment. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan and Pennsylvania saw all districts falling below their new population quota, and in Illinois, 17 of their current 18 do as well. All three states are losing a district.

It is not surprising that California lost a seat for the first time in history. A total of 35 of their current 53 seats require more population versus 18 that must shed residents. New York barely lost a seat, by just 89 people statewide, which is surprising when seeing 23 of their current 27 districts requiring additional population.

The states are now converting their new data into their redistricting software systems. After that, most will hold hearings for public input prior to district construction beginning.

STATE DIST INCUMBENT HIGH LOW +/-
Alabama 5 Mo Brooks (R) 43,348 4, 3
7 Terri Swell (D) -53,143
Arizona 5 Andy Biggs (R) 86,414 3, 6
2 Ann Kirkpatrick (D) -50,133
Arkansas 3 Steve Womack (R) 86,266 2, 2
4 Bruce Westerman (R) -66,283
California 45 Katie Porter (D) 53,645 18, 35
-1 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) -70,139
Colorado 4 Ken Buck (R) 148,823 7, 0
+1 3 Lauren Boebert (R) 36,543
Connecticut 4 Jim Himes (D) 25,627 2, 3
2 Joe Courtney (D) -21,288
Florida 9 Darren Soto (D) 186,381 21, 6
+1 13 Charlie Crist (D) -41,756
Georgia 7 Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) 94,304 8, 6
2 Sanford Bishop (D) -92,108
Illinois 7 Danny Davis (D) 10,986 1, 17
-1 17 Cheri Bustos (D) -79,907
Indiana 5 Victoria Spartz (R) 50,921 5, 4
8 Larry Bucshon (R) -38,579
Iowa 3 Cindy Axne (D) 61,382 1, 3
4 Randy Feenstra (R) -31,730
Kansas 3 Sharice Davids (D) 57,816 1, 3
1 Tracey Mann (R) -33,697
Kentucky 6 Andy Barr (R) 33,300 4, 2
5 Hal Rogers (R) -57,592
Louisiana 6 Garret Graves (R) 40,173 3, 3
4 Mike Johnson (R) -47,947
Maryland 4 Anthony Brown (D) 26,772 6, 2
7 Kweisi Mfume (D) -68,401
Massachusetts 7 Ayanna Pressley (D) 18,714 4, 5
1 Richard Neal (D) -50,635
Michigan 11 Haley Stevens (D) -17,368 0, 14
-1 5 Dan Kildee (D) -104,476
Minnesota 3 Dean Phillips (D) 24,586 5, 3
7 Michelle Fischbach (D) -39,978
Mississippi 4 Steven Palazzo (R) 37,196 3, 1
2 Bennie Thompson (D) -65,829
Missouri 3 Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) 35,121 6, 2
1 Cori Bush (D) -54,618
Nebraska 2 Don Bacon (R) 47,170 2, 1
3 Adrian Smith (R) -53,152
Nevada 3 Susie Lee (D) 79,374 2, 2
1 Dina Titus (D) -73,332
New Jerseyy 8 Albio Sires (D) 47,314 5, 7
2 Jeff Van Drew (R) -41,606
New Mexico 2 Yvette Harrell (R) 8,181 2, 1
1 Melanie Stansbury (D) -11,264
New York 12 Carolyn Maloney (D) 34,717 4, 23
-1 23 Tom Reed (R) -83,462
North Carolina 2 Deborah Ross (D) 165,703 12, 1
+1 1 G.K. Butterfield (D) -6,238
Ohio 3 Joyce Beatty (D) 23,119 2, 14
-1 6 Bill Johnson (R) -99,512
Oklahoma 1 Kevin Hern (R) 36,806 3, 2
2 Markwayne Mullin (R) -69,793
Oregon 1 Suzanne Bonamici (D) 157,843 5, 0
+1 4 Peter DeFazio (D) 117,399
Pennsylvania 10 Scott Perry (R) -5,379 0, 18
-1 15 Glenn Thompson (R) -90,540
South Carolina 1 Nancy Mace (R) 87,689 3, 4
6 Jim Clyburn (D) -84,741
Tennessee 4 Scott DesJarlais (R) 62,976 5, 4
9 Steve Cohen (D) -77,122
Texas 22 Troy Nehls (R) 205,322 28, 8
+2 13 Ronny Jackson (R) -59,517
Utah 4 Burgess Owens (R) 65,265 1, 3
3 John Curtis (R) -31,190
Virginia 10 Jennifer Wexton (D) 100,750 6, 5
9 Morgan Griffith (R) -87,917
Washington 7 Pramila Jayapal (D) 28,862 6, 4
6 Derek Kilmer (D) -33,730
West Virginia 2 Alex Mooney (R) -275,777 0, 3
-1 3 Carol Miller (R) -326,627
Wisconsin 2 Mark Pocan (D) 52,678 2, 6
4 Gwen Moore (D) -41,320