RENO — A new election poll released this week by researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno released shows some candidates in the upcoming primary election may have a strong lead over their rivals, but many races could be close by the time November’s general election rolls around.
The Nevada Election Survey Project surveyed 1,100 Nevadans about their views of candidates in this month’s state primary election, along with their feelings on state and national officials, and key issues including gun rights, health care, inflation and abortion.
In the primary election, Republicans favor Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who has a 33-point lead over his closest competitor, former Senator Dean Heller.
Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, who was endorsed by the Nevada GOP and is the only candidate to have attended the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C., trails Lombardo by 35 points.
The Nevada GOP pick for U.S. Senate, Sam Brown, also trails in the poll. Republicans favored competitor Adam Laxalt by a 26-point margin over Brown.
In the general election, Nevadans favored Democratic incumbents Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto over their Republican rivals, but researchers said the survey results suggest their favorability may have a ceiling.
“No matter the matchup, even with less competitive candidates, they each received a similar percentage of support,” Jeremy Gelman, a UNR political scientist who fielded the poll, said. “This suggests they have a ceiling of support right now, somewhere in the mid to upper 40s, with the rest of the electorate looking for an alternative choice. Once voters learn more about the Republican candidates, we expect polls in the fall to be much closer.”
Nevadans rank key issues
UNR’s pollsters also asked voters to rate the level of importance of 29 issues ranging from health care and inflation to voting rights, immigration, wildfire prevention and U.S.-China relations. Key issues that are notably missing from the list are housing, homelessness, child care and infrastructure – all of which have been newsmakers in Nevada over the past two years.
While Democrats and Republicans both ranked inflation, health care and crime in their top five, they had very different priorities for other issues. Democrats ranked water conservation, climate change, gun policy, democracy and abortion among their top 10 issues. Republicans prioritized free speech, election security, K-12 education, policing and immigration.
Despite election security being of concern to Republicans, 63% of Nevadans believe that ballots are counted accurately in the state and 58% believe they’re counted accurately nationwide.
Local election officials also received higher approval ratings than Congress, the Supreme Court, Nevada’s Legislature, local police and school boards, earning a 42% approval rating. Police and the legislature trailed by 9 points, with others trailing by 15 points or more.
Results of the survey can be viewed here.