Bad sign for Democrats in critical Nevada Senate race
Laxalt’s slight lead in public polls comes as Democrats have called on key surrogates to appear in Nevada over the next two weeks, including former President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Earlier this month, former President Donald Trump held a rally in support of Laxalt.
The Club for Growth super PAC, which is spending nearly $13 million in the Nevada Senate race, found that Laxalt fell from 39% support in mid-September to 42% earlier this month, and now at 45%. Support for Cortez Masto appears to have held steady at 43%, according to the poll memo. The survey, conducted October 16-18 by WPA Intelligence, has a margin of error of 4.4%.
A CBS poll released Thursday also found Laxalt rose 1 percentage point. While Republicans enjoyed a narrow lead last fall into the spring, Cortez Masto emerged as the frontrunner through the summer as Democrats attacked the GOP on abortion.
The race has remained close since Labor Day, and Republicans are targeting the state’s bulk of working-class and Latino voters with messages about inflation and crime. Nevada and Georgia are currently the Republicans’ two best pick-up opportunities in the party’s fight to regain control of the tightly-divided Senate, a business of protecting seats in swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Carolina North and Ohio while ousting at least one Democratic incumbent.
The Nevada race has generated a flurry of news in recent days, underscoring the high stakes. Last week, more than a dozen Laxalt parents endorsed Cortez Masto, which the Republican rejected, calling those family members « Democrats. » A similar number of those close to Laxalt also decried his decision to run for governor in 2018, a race he lost. Laxalt, grandson of former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, served as the state’s attorney general from 2015 to 2019.
Registered voters begin receiving mail-in ballots and early voting begins Saturday. TV ad spending in the race has been roughly even between the parties over the past month. Republican groups ran ads criticizing Cortez Masto’s time as attorney general and also tried to cast her as responsible for skyrocketing inflation due to the approval of major spending bills federal government and support for President Joe Biden’s agenda.
« Democrats across the country are vulnerable to crime and the economy, and our polls show Sen. Cortez Masto’s record is particularly problematic for Nevada voters on both issues, » said President David McIntosh. of the Club for Growth, in a statement to POLITICO. .
Cortez Masto and Laxalt each boasted support from separate law enforcement associations. A new Club for Growth announcement released on Friday highlights criminal inmates who have received pandemic stimulus checks from the federal government, including men convicted of murder, sex trafficking and child pornography. The ad will also run in Spanish, part of the Club’s $2.5 million to target Hispanic voters. The ad describes Cortez Masto as the « decisive vote » to approve the checks; however, pandemic relief payments approved under Trump have also allowed inmates to receive checks.
Democrats, meanwhile, have sought to link Laxalt to Trump’s rejection of the 2020 election, as well as his opposition to abortion. ‘He put his commitment to Donald Trump ahead of his commitment to law and order,’ a police officer says of Laxalt in a new Cortez Masto ad, underscoring Laxalt’s support for efforts to overturn the results elections. Laxalt helped lead unsuccessful legal challenges to election results.
The GOP reckoning is that voters’ concerns about the cost of goods, crime, and their displeasure with Biden will outweigh independents’ disapproval of Trump, who lost the state by just 2.7 percentage points.