Jim Clark: If the election were held today in Nevada
August 13, 2014
Midterm elections are coming. Here's a glimpse of how Nevada likely voters feel if the election were held today. In the Harper Poll conducted late last month the results were as follows:
Forty-one percent expressed a favorable opinion of Sen. Harry Reid (D – NV), 55 percent unfavorable and 4 percent were unsure.
Fifty-eight percent viewed Nevada's Republican Governor Brian Sandoval favorably, 30 percent unfavorably and 12 percent not sure.
Virtually unknown Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Goodman had a 15 percent favorable rating, 23 percent unfavorable and a whopping 61 percent were unsure.
Fifty-six percent would vote for Sandoval, 34 percent for Goodman and 10 percent not sure.
Interestingly, in a hypothetical Senate race, 53 percent preferred Sandoval, 43 percent Reid with only 4 percent unsure.
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In the case of the controversial "Education Initiative", a teacher union driven ballot measure which would impose a tax on business gross operating margins, 49 percent oppose, 40 percent support and 11 percent were not sure. This is a substantial reversal from polling last spring in which the support levels were reversed.
With respect to same-sex marriage 45 percent would support a ballot initiative which would legalize it in Nevada, 47 percent would oppose and 9 percent were not sure.
As for legalization of marijuana 46 percent would support such a proposal, 47 percent would oppose and 7 percent were not sure.
In national politics Nevadans pretty much reflected the nationwide polls. Only 38 percent approved Barack Obama's handling his job as President, 56 percent disapproved and 6 percent were not sure.
Pitting Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton against possible GOP candidates poll respondents preferred Clinton over Jeb Bush by 46 percent to 41 percent with 14 percent unsure. Clinton bested Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) by 47 percent to 44 percent with 9 percent not sure. Clinton easily outpolled New Mexico's Republican Governor Susana Martinez by 48 percent to 35 percent with 17 percent unsure.
The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.99 percent. The sample consisted of 602 Nevadans mirroring the demographics of the Silver State. Thirty-seven percent of the sample were Republican, 43 percent Democrat and 20 percent either non-partisan or minor party.
Fifty-three percent were female, 47 percent male; 17 percent were aged 18 to 39; 26 percent were 40 to 54; 26 percent were 55 to 65; and 32 percent were 66 or older.
Seventy percent were Caucasian, 15 percent Hispanic and 15 percent other. Thirty-four percent styled themselves as conservative, 44 percent moderate, 19 percent liberal and 3 percent not sure.
For a midterm election a poll of "likely voters" is considered the most relevant in predicting outcomes in the fall because there is no "top of the ticket" race or races to drive voter turnout so only folks with a consistent voting history are included in the sample.
Surprising no one, it appears that Gov. Sandoval will coast to an easy victory in November. A mild surprise is that the job-killing business margins tax proposal appears headed for the dust bin of failed Nevada special interest sponsored ballot initiatives.
Another mild surprise is the nearly equal split of support of and opposition to legalization of both marijuana and same-sex marriage. I would have guessed both to have stronger support in Nevada.
More interesting, if a bit premature, is the strength of a Jeb Bush or Rand Paul challenge to another Clinton ascendancy. In each case the "not sure" voters are likely to break for the Republican because hardly anyone is "unsure" about Hillary Clinton due to her protracted occupancy of the national lime light.
I would have guessed that a third member of the Bush family would be a non-starter for the nation's top job but apparently time heals old wounds. Moreover Jeb Bush has already aired his empathy for immigrants yet there are still many positives about his accomplishments as Florida's governor to be paraded before voters.
Rand Paul's strength is also surprising since his experience as an elected official is little more than Obama had at this stage of his career.
It will be interesting to watch future trends.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates; he has served on both the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees.