LAS VEGAS -- Republican Sen. Dean Heller is maintaining a lead over Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley among likely Nevada voters in their U.S. Senate contest but that margin is narrowing, according to an 8 News NOW/Las Vegas Review-Journal poll released early Thursday morning.
Heller now leads 46 percent to 40 percent, slipping slightly from the 47-39 advantage he enjoyed last week, a SurveyUSA poll found. The bilingual cell phone and landline poll of 806 Nevadans, which contained a 3.5 percent margin of error, also found that 8 percent of respondents preferred other candidates and 6 percent are undecided.
The poll, conducted from Oct. 11 through Monday, also found that Berkley continues to have an image problem with likely voters but not as severe as a week ago. Of those polled, 45 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of her while 33 percent view her favorably, producing a favorability rating of minus 12. Still, that's an improvement from her minus 20 rating a week ago.
Heller, with a plus 3 favorability rating a week ago, slipped to zero in the latest poll as 37 percent view him favorably and an equal percentage hold the opposite opinion.
Another major difference in the latest poll is that Berkley now leads in urban Las Vegas 49 to 42 percent. That's a 12-point reversal from last week, when Heller enjoyed a 46-41 edge. Berkley also took the lead among union households 51-41 after being behind by three points last week, and now holds a 45-40 edge among those who did not get beyond high school after trailing by five points in that category last week.
Heller, though, extended his lead among Hispanic likely voters from 43-41 a week ago to 48-40 this time. He also holds a 44-41 advantage among moderates after trailing by nine points a week ago.
Heller also leads Berkley in these demographics: men, 50 to 39 percent; 18- to 49-year-olds, 46 to 40 percent; those 50 and older, 47 to 41 percent; whites, 49 to 38 percent; Asian-Americans, 47 to 32 percent; Republicans, 80 to 9 percent; independents, 53 to 28 percent; tea party members, 72 to 25 percent; conservatives, 74 to 17 percent; and nonunion households, 48 to 37 percent.
He also leads in households with active military members or veterans, 56 to 34 percent; those with some college experience, 47 to 36 percent; college degree holders, 49 to 41 percent; middle-income earners, 48 to 40 percent; those who earn more than $80,000 annually, 52 to 35 percent; Washoe County residents, 50 to 34 percent; and those who live elsewhere in Nevada outside Clark County, 63 to 24 percent.
Berkley also has the advantage over Heller in these demographics: blacks, 70 to 18 percent; Democrats, 72 to 16 percent; liberals, 69 to 15 percent; households without active military members or veterans, 43 to 41 percent; and those who earn less than $40,000 annually, 46 to 40 percent.
The two candidates are tied among female voters and virtually tied among residents of suburban Clark County.
Among other highlights in the poll:
* Only 35 percent of respondents watched the Oct. 11 debate between both candidates. Of the 285 who watched, 46 percent said Heller won the debate and 21 percent indicated Berkley emerged victorious. That aspect of the poll had a 5.9 percent margin of error.
* On the question of who will do better for the middle class, respondents chose Heller over Berkley by a 46 to 37 percent margin.
* When asked who has a better plan for Medicare, those polled opted for Heller over Berkley 42 to 37 percent.
* As for who is stronger on immigration, respondents chose Heller over Berkley 46 to 27 percent.
* To the question of who has run a more truthful campaign, Heller was the choice over Berkley 42 to 30 percent.
* When asked who is more ethical, likely voters chose Heller over Berkley 45 to 27 percent.
The composition of the poll includes 40 percent of likely voters who identified themselves as Democrats, 31 percent as Republicans and 27 percent as independents. Last week's poll had the same percentage of Democrats but also consisted of 33 percent who identified themselves as Republicans and 25 percent who said they were independents, translating to a slightly smaller percentage of likely voters who are identifying themselves as Republicans.
In the latest poll, moderates account for 41 percent, conservatives represent 31 percent and 19 percent are liberals. Among those polled, 7 percent are tea party members, 18 percent belong to union households, and 34 percent live in military/veteran households.
By gender, 52 percent are male and the same percentage are ages 18 to 49. The respondents are 62 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian-American and 8 percent black. Some 22 percent live in urban Las Vegas, 49 percent reside in the rest of Clark County, 17 percent call Washoe County home and 12 percent live elsewhere in Nevada. Among respondents, 36 percent hold a college degree and 40 percent have some college experience. Some 33 percent earn less than $40,000 a year, 39 percent are middle-income earners, and 28 percent make more than $80,000 annually.
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