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KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Cortez Masto narrowly eclipsing Heck in close Nevada Senate race

Posted at 9:05 AM, Oct 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 21:39:05-04

Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto has taken a narrow lead in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race against Republican Rep. Joe Heck, according to a new KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll.

Cortez Masto leads Heck by a 43 to 41 percent, with seven percent of voters supporting another candidate and eight percent unsure with a 3.5 percent margin of error. The poll of 826 likely voters was conducted between Oct. 20 to 22, following the third presidential debate at UNLV.

The highly competitive race has remained close for months, but the new KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll marks the first time Cortez Masto posted a lead in the four polls conducted by Rasmussen since July (the lead is within the margin of error). The most recent Rasmussen poll of Nevada was conducted in September and showed Heck leading by a 44 to 40 percent margin.

Support for both Heck and Cortez Masto among various demographic groups largely fell along the same lines as the presidential race. Cortez Masto supported a majority of female voters, minorities and voters with incomes under $50,000, while Heck commanded more support from men, white voters and survey respondents who said they are married.

Among Hispanic voters, the poll indicates Cortez Masto leads by a 47 to 34 percent margin with 12 percent still undecided. That’s a much narrower margin among Latino voters than Hillary Clinton commands over Donald Trump, according to polling results released yesterday.

Heck trails Cortez Masto in Clark County by a 45 to 39 percent margin and in Washoe County by a 44 to 43 percent margin, though the Republican leads in rural areas of Nevada by a 53 to 35 percent spread.

Both candidates are viewed unfavorably by a majority of Nevadans, though Heck is viewed slightly more unfavorably than Cortez Masto.

  • Forty two percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of Heck, while 51 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of the Republican congressman.

  • Cortez Masto is viewed favorably by 43 percent of voters, while 49 percent view her unfavorably.

Both candidates have become more unpopular since the first KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll taken in July, possibly due to the more than $50 million in negative TV ad spending done by outside groups over the past few months.

Heck’s approval numbers have flipped from a 50 to 36 percent approve/disapprove in July to the current 42 to 51 percent margin, while Cortez Masto’s approval numbers have gone from a 38 to 45 percent approve/disapprove in July to a 43/49 percent margin.

Cortez Masto campaign spokeswoman Sarah Zukowski said the campaign believes the race will be close until Election Day.

“We expect this race to remain close until the end, but are confident Nevada voters will reject the millions of dollars Joe Heck's allies have spent lying about Catherine Cortez Masto's record and elect her to be our next Senator to focus on solving problems, not creating them,” she said in an emailed statement.

A Heck campaign spokesman declined to comment.

Early voting in Nevada began on Saturday and runs through Nov. 4. More than 111,000 ballots have been cast so far in the state, including absentee ballots.

The KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll was conducted with a 95 percent level of confidence and a mix of 75 percent automated voice polling and 25 percent online responses. Rasmussen polls historically lean Republican, according to a FiveThirtyEight ranking of polling groups.

A full demographic breakdown of the poll results is available here.

KTNV will release additional polling results on ballot questions legalizing recreational use of marijuana and universal background checks on gun sales, as well as the popularity of the recently approved deal to raise hotel room taxes to partially finance a domed stadium that could attract the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas.