LAS VEGAS -- Republican Sen. Dean Heller enjoys a 44 percent to 39 percent lead over Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley in this year's race for his seat, according to an 8 News NOW/Las Vegas Review-Journal poll released early Thursday morning.
The statewide poll of 869 likely voters by SurveyUSA of Clifton, N.J. also found that 9 percent of respondents prefer other candidates and 8 percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 16 through Aug. 21 and has a 3.4 percent margin of error. National political pundits consider this a key November contest as control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
Both candidates have higher unfavorable than favorable ratings but the margin is considerably worse for Berkley than for Heller.
Heller enjoys an advantage over Berkley in these demographics: Washoe County, 53 to 32 percent; rest of state outside Clark County, 64 to 20 percent; men, 50 to 36 percent; 18- to 49-year-olds, 42 to 38 percent; 50 and older, 47 to 41 percent; whites, 50 to 35 percent; Hispanics, 47 to 37 percent; Republicans, 77 to 10 percent; independents, 44 to 35 percent; tea party members, 85 to 11 percent; conservatives, 78 to 12 percent; college degree holders, 49 to 40 percent; and those who earn more than $80,000 annually, 55 to 36 percent.
Berkley holds the edge over Heller in these demographics: Clark County outside Las Vegas, 44 to 37 percent; women, 43 to 37 percent; African-Americans, 75 to 8 percent; Asian-Americans, 39 to 33 percent; Democrats, 69 to 15 percent; moderates, 49 to 35 percent; liberals, 71 to 10 percent; those with only high school diplomas, 42 to 34 percent; and those who earn less than $40,000 a year, 42 to 36 percent.
Her lead over Heller in Las Vegas is 45 to 44 percent, the poll found.
Among other results in the poll:
* Of the likely voters who stated a preference for a candidate, 73 percent did so enthusiastically and 23 percent did so with reservations. Among those who favor Berkley, 22 percent indicate they do so with reservations. Of Heller's supporters, 18 percent have reservations about him.
* Asked for their opinion of Berkley, 43 percent have an unfavorable impression versus 29 percent who hold a favorable opinion. An additional 22 percent are neutral.
* Heller attracted an unfavorable rating from 35 percent of respondents and a favorable view from 32 percent of others, with 24 percent remaining neutral.
* Among those polled, 59 percent indicated they are following news stories related to the House Ethics Committee investigation of Berkley, while 34 percent said they aren't do so.
* Among those who are following news of the ethics investigation, 42 percent indicated the House probe makes it more likely they'll vote for Heller versus 14 percent who say the investigation will make them more likely to support Berkley. An additional 40 percent said the investigation isn't influencing their vote.
* Of those who plan to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, 87 percent also intend to support Heller. Of those who intend to vote for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, only 76 percent plan to vote for Berkley.
The breakdown of the poll included 39 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans and 23 percent independents. Moderates account for 39 percent of those polled, followed by conservatives, 33 percent, and liberals, 16 percent.
By gender 52 percent of the respondents are men. The age breakdown is 53 percent for 18- to 49-year-olds and 47 percent for older voters. The racial breakdown is 62 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian-American and 8 percent black. Some 82 percent of those polled attended college, and half of those earned degrees. Of those polled, 30 percent earn less than $40,000 and 32 percent earn more than $80,000.
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