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August 22, 2014

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New poll shows Mark Amodei, Kate Marshall in dead heat

Last week, a conservative poll whose ethics are being questioned showed Republican candidate Mark Amodei up 13 points over Democratic rival, Kate Marshall, in the race to fill Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District seat.

Today, a liberal poll has them in a dead heat heading into the homestretch of the campaign.

A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and released this morning by progressive political blog Daily Kos and the Service Employees’ International Union puts Amodei up only 1 point over Marshall, 43-42, which is within the survey's margin of error.

Timothy Fasano and Helmuth Lehmann each received 3 percent of the prospective field of voters, with 8 percent undecided.

In other words, according to the poll, between Amodei and Marshall, it’s anybody’s game.

The details of the poll aren’t too surprising: Amodei does better among Republicans (77 to 8 percent), Marshall does better among Democrats (81 to 4 percent); Amodei does slightly better among white voters (45 to 40 percent), while Marshall does significantly better among Hispanics (52 to 30 percent) and other minorities (53 to 36 percent); and while Amodei polls stronger among baby boomers (45 to 42 percent) and seniors (47 to 40 percent), Marshall is the favorite with the younger crowd (pulling 44 to Amodei’s 32 percent among 18-to-29 year olds, and 45 to 39 percent among 30 to 45 year olds).

The poll includes some interesting stats about the Senate race between Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller. Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District is Heller’s old stomping grounds, and he does better there overall: in a hypothetical head-to-head with Berkley, he pulls 52 percent of the district, while she pulls 40 percent.

But the more important breakdown, at least for the Berkley campaign, comes in the favorable ratings. While voters in the district aren’t overwhelmingly pleased with Heller, more people like him than don’t: his approval rating is 48 percent, while his disapproval rating is 41 -- in a poll sponsored by Democrat-leaning outfits.

Berkley, on the other hand, is still relatively unknown in the district: over half of respondents said they hadn’t developed an opinion of her. (Of those who did, only 18 percent liked her; 31 percent didn’t).

Seen in the best possible light, that’s potential room to grow. But Berkley’s already been working Northern Nevada -- especially Washoe County -- to raise her profile; she’s there today campaigning as part of her jobs tour.

But the numbers in this poll suggest either the message hasn’t been sticking, or people just haven’t been paying attention to anything other than the special election, where Marshall is running as a very different kind of Democrat. Marshall has been trying to appeal to voters across party lines by distancing herself from several of President Barack Obama’s policies that Berkley has supported, including the health care bill and the debt ceiling package.

Three weeks remain until voters will decide if her centrist message is what they want to send to Washington. But polls aren’t clear about her chances: The PPP poll comes in the wake of a Magellan Strategies/Americans for Prosperity poll that put Amodei up over Marshall, 48 to 35 percent.

But that poll sampled more heavily from Republicans than PPP’s: 48 percent of the respondents were Republicans in that poll, while 38 percent were Democrats and 14 percent were indepedents.

The PPP poll’s sample was 41 percent Republican, 37 percent Democratic, and 22 percent independent.

Neither is exactly representative of the second district’s voting-eligible population. Voter registration in Nevada’s 2nd, as of July, is 43 percent Republican, 35.4 percent Democrat, and 15 percent independent. The rest of voters are divided among smaller parties (with registered Independent Americans -- that’s Sharron Angle’s old party before she challenged Harry Reid -- most strongly represented among the minor parties with 5 percent.)

If Marshall beats Amodei, it will be the first time the district has been represented by a Democrat since it was created in 1980.

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