- Masto edges Laxalt, 45%-44%, in Nevada Senate race.
- Why it matters: Nevada is GOP’s best chance of flipping a Senate seat.
- The governor’s race is a dead heat, 43%-43%.
Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is hanging on to an edge of a single percentage point over Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in Nevada’s pivotal Senate race, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds.
As the campaign heads into its final week, voters are split 45%-44% in a contest considered crucial to control of the U.S. Senate. Republican strategists see Nevada as their best chance of flipping a Democratic-held seat, potentially altering the balance of power in a Senate now divided 50-50.
Eight to watch:Midterm election races will determine who controls the Senate
One sign of the state’s importance: Former President Barack Obama, considered the Democrats’ most persuasive closer, is slated to campaign Tuesday in Las Vegas with Masto and Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Former President Donald Trump campaigned for Laxalt, Republican gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo and other GOP candidates in a rally in Minden last month.
The governor’s race between Sisolak and Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff, remains tied, 43%-43%, according to the survey. In his first bid for governor, in 2018, Sisolak defeated Laxalt to become the first Democrat to hold the office in the state in two decades.
The poll of 500 likely midterm voters, taken Oct. 24-28 by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
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Pessimism spikes amid economic fears
Nearly half of Nevada voters, 48%, rate the state’s economy as “poor,” more than double the 21% who call it “excellent” or “good.” That assessment is considerably more downbeat than in the USA TODAY/Suffolk survey taken in early October, when 38% called the economy poor.
In an April poll, 37% called it poor. In August, 33% did.
Biden’s job rating is 42% approve, 54% disapprove – not exactly glowing but brighter than the 35%-59% rating he received in April.
Despite the increased economic concerns, the power of the abortion issue hasn’t declined for many voters. In both the new poll and the one taken in August, 40% rated abortion as an issue at “10” on a scale of 1 to 10 – that is, as the most powerful issue possible affecting their vote.
In August, 23% rated the issue as a “1,” as not affecting their vote at all. Now, that number has ticked up to 26%.
Town vs. country in the Senate race
“Adam Laxalt is crushing Cortez Masto in the 14 rural counties, plus Carson City,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “However, she is winning Nevada’s largest county, Clark, by enough to offset her rural setbacks in central Nevada.”
Laxalt, a former state attorney general, leads by 3-1, 67%-22%, in the state’s central region. But Masto leads by 49%-40% in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, and by 46%-43% in Washoe County, which includes Reno.
Independents are dividing for Laxalt, 43%-30%. Masto leads by 55 points among Blacks, 10 points among Hispanics, 15 points among union households. The Democrat also shows strength among those who already have cast their ballots, 52%-39%.
USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: Endangered Democrat in Nevada Senate race sees her lead shrink
Since the spring, Masto has held her support but struggled to expand it. She stood at 40% in the April poll, 45% in August, 46% in early October and 45% now.
Laxalt’s support has also been relatively steady: 43% in April, 38% in August, 44% in early October and 44% now.
Five percent of voters say they are still undecided, including a notable 11% of independents. A trio of third-party candidates are receiving a combined 4% of the vote, and 3% of voters say they would choose a distinctive option on the Nevada ballot: “None of these candidates.”
Story Credit: usatoday.com