Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 | 2:32 p.m.
Former Rep. Dina Titus released an internal poll today showing her popularity among likely Democratic voters is seven times that of her primary opponent, fellow Democrat Sen. Ruben Kihuen.
The poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research, an Alabama and Washington, D.C.-based political consulting company, shows Titus with the support of 77 percent of likely primary voters in the 1st Congressional District, while Kihuen, the 31-year-old state senator from East Las Vegas, only pulls 11 percent.
The poll also shows Titus leading among likely Latino primary voters, 64 percent to 22 percent. (Among likely white voters, the split is 82 percent to 8 percent in favor of Titus.)
Titus upset many in the Democratic establishment -- especially leading Hispanic Democrats -- when she announced her run against Kihuen to represent Nevada’s 1st District, a seat that’s been safely Democratic for the last 13 years. It’s up for grabs because Rep. Shelley Berkley, who’s represented the district for the last seven Congresses, is making a bid for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller.
The 1st District -- which is almost 43 percent Latino after redistricting -- seemed a too-perfect opportunity to usher Nevada’s first Hispanic representative into Congress. Senior state Democrats, including, albeit subtly, Harry Reid , rallied around Kihuen. (Titus notes that her polls shows her leading Kihuen 82 to 6 in Kihuen’s state Senate district, the 11th. However, it’s unclear how many of the 400 voters the firm surveyed from across the U.S. Congressional district came from Kihuen’s district.)
Democrats wanted Titus to run in the 3rd District, which represented as a congresswoman, but lost to current Rep. Joe Heck by the slimmest of margins in 2010.
Titus -- who had already said she had no intention of a rematch with Heck -- refused to budge, announcing her candidacy for the 1st District this month. And this poll, is intended to be read as a warning to her critics to back off -- though her campaign isn’t putting it in those terms.
“This race is far from over, but we feel these numbers are a great start after Dina announced her candidacy,” campaign manager Jay Gertsema wrote in the press release announcing the poll results. “Democrats in the 1st District are behind Dina because they know she always stood up for their values.”
The Kihuen campaign, however, is downplaying the value of the poll -- or any poll -- at this stage, seven months before primary voters will pick their candidate.
“The race is in June, not in a few weeks. Polls seven months out from Election Day are irrelevant; just ask Michelle Bachman and Herman Cain,” Kihuen campaign manager Daniel Chavez said in a written statement. “Congressman Heck was lesser known in the 2010 election against Titus. Also, Dina has spent millions building her name ID over the past two decades.”
Titus’ campaign also foot the bill for the current internal poll, though the Democratic firm that conducted it is a known, mainstream organization -- and has been doing polling for Titus’s campaigns for three years.
“Ruben has never lost an election in this district and has proven that he can defeat well-financed candidates,” Chavez said.