Democratic poll: Heller viewed very negatively, Laxalt not that well known

Nevada Democrats, who have no candidates yet for the state’s top two races next cycle, will take heart in new polling on Sen. Dean Heller and Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the presumed GOP candidate for governor.

The survey, conducted by the progressive group Project New America, shows that Heller is even more unpopular than President Trump in Nevada -- something our Independent Poll also indicated in January -- and that Laxalt is still a relatively amorphous political quantity. Republicans will argue that the survey was conducted for the other side (and The Indy poll also was done by a Democrat). Myers Research is a Democratic firm. But the results don’t seem out of line with what’s happening.

The Huffington Post was first to report the results of the Heller poll. The key finding:

Heller’s job rating is 33-53 (excellent-good/fair-poor), which will be fatal if that’s what it looks like next year, and if the Democrats find a quality candidate (or maybe one with a pulse if the numbers are THAT bad.) President Trump is at 42-50, which also won’t be helpful to Heller if it sticks.

(By the way, some pollsters prefer favorable/unfavorable and think “fair” is a more neutral than negative term.)

The Indy poll found Heller’s numbers at 29-40, so he is unhealthy in two successive polls. (Trump was at 32-41).

The Laxalt findings indicate only 56 percent of voters know him, which will give Democrats sustenance. But even though they may be happy voters generally are neutral on the attorney general, he is not viewed overwhelmingly negatively in Clark County.

And from the polling memo:

Findings from our recent focus groups demonstrate that Laxalt has little top-of-mind connection among this electorate, yet among those who do know him impressions are generally poor. Some view him as a typical politician and insider, openly expressing that he is the status quo candidate as he is the Republican establishment’s pick. Others who recognize him resent his political posturing and allegiance with President Trump, while some even mention that he differed at key times with Governor Sandoval.

So what does this all mean?

  1. The Democrats don’t have candidates, but want everyone to know they have hope.
  2. Heller is in big trouble, if you believe these polls, and even a mediocre candidate might have a chance if the atmosphere remains toxic. His enduring resilience cannot be underestimated, though.
  3. Laxalt will win a GOP primary against almost anyone, all other things being equal. But he is not invulnerable in a general.

Oh, one more thing: It’s March 10, 2017!