A new survey of the Nevada Senate race from Public Policy Polling (D) gives Republican Sen. Dean Heller a narrow lead against Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, even as President Obama appears to be improving in this swing state.
The numbers: Heller 46%, Berkley 43%. The survey of registered voters was conducted from March 29 through April 1, and has a ±4.2% margin of error.
In the previous poll from October, the two were tied at 45%-45%.
Heller was appointed to the Senate in 2011, after scandal-plagued Republican Sen. John Ensign resigned. Both Heller and Berkley had already been running for the seat, with the appointment then giving Heller a leg up with statewide incumbency.
In the new poll, Heller’s approval rating is 43%, to 36% disapproval, up slightly from 39%-35%.
By contrast, Berkley’s personal favorability rating is underwater at 33% favorable, to 40% unfavorable, down from 38%-35% in the October poll.
From the pollster’s analysis:
There are two key things driving Heller’s ability to lead in the state even as PPP numbers that will be released tomorrow show Barack Obama at his greatest strength there since being elected. One is that Heller has the upper hand with independents, leading 52-39. The other is that he’s peeling off a healthy percentage of the Democratic vote, getting 16% across party lines.
“The Nevada Senate race remains one of the closest in the country,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “This could come down to how strong Barack Obama’s coattails are. He’s doing a lot better than Berkley with Hispanic and black voters, but if they end up voting the entire Democratic ticket it could put her over the top.”