Democratic poll shows Nevada Senate race a dead heat, Hillary up in the state

The U.S. Senate race in Nevada is a dead heat while every Republican candidate would lose today to Hillary Clinton in Nevada, according to a poll conducted by a Democratic-leaning pollster for a Democratic SuperPAC.

The numbers for the Senate Majority PAC actually make sense despite what some will criticize as the source, especially because the partisan breakdown is reasonable (the pollster used the actual 39-34, D-R split, although performance usually favors the GOP to cut into that edge) and past crosstabs have shown the pollster, Public Policy Polling, knows the state.  PPP, though, has had mixed results in Nevada, botching last cycle's LG race but besting other pollsters at times, including during the 2010 U.S. Senate race that most others had Sharron Angle winning.

Here's what the numbers show from this month, with a margin of effor of just under 5 percent:

►Catherine Cortez Masto, 42 percent; Joe Heck, 41 percent

►Clinton is up 48/43 on Marco Rubio, 48/42 on Donald Trump, 48/41 on Scott Walker, and 49/37 on Jeb Bush.

Six points on Trump! My God.

Those presidential numbers are not that surprising, considering the voter registration edge (55,000-plus) the Democrats have and the performance in 2008 and 2012 here.

The survey also shows the federal minimum wage could be an effective wedge issue for the Democratic contender, as you will see from the memo below.

By the way, the PPP poll is much more credible than the U.S. Chamber survey that showed Heck winning in a landslide and had questionable demographics. (The chamber, which started running ads for Heck this week, also refused to release any more information when I asked.)

Also, let's be clear: Any poll taken in July of 2015 does not mean all that much, and its release is designed to help fundraising and little more. Also, this race has always been destined to be close unless something unforeseen occurs, and the presidential contest in Nevada is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum surrounded by an enigma until we see who the nominee is.

And did I mention the election is 481 days away?

Here's the polling memo:

From: Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling

To: Interested Parties

Subject: Nevada Senate Race Tight; Clinton Well Positioned in State

Date: July 15, 2015

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that the open race for the Senate in Nevada is a toss up, with Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto leading Republican Joe Heck by a single point. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton is well positioned in the Presidential race, leading the top Republicans by 5-12 points in the state. Key findings from the survey include:

-For now the Senate race is about as close as it can be, with Cortez Masto leading Heck 42/41. There are indications within the numbers of Cortez Masto having more room for growth though- the undecideds voted for Barack Obama by 24 points in 2012 and they support Hillary Clinton over the trio of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker by an average of 11 points. Those folks are likely to end up voting Democratic for the Senate too in the end.

-Hillary Clinton is the clear favorite for President in Nevada, and her coattails are likely to benefit Cortez Masto in the Senate race as well. Clinton’s up 48/43 on Marco Rubio, 48/42 on Donald Trump, 48/41 on Scott Walker, and 49/37 on Jeb Bush. If Clinton’s winning the state by those kinds of margins, she’s likely to bring Cortez Masto along with her.

One issue that gives Cortez Masto a decided advantage over Heck is increasing the federal minimum wage. 59% of voters support doing that to only 34% who are opposed. Heck’s conservative stance on that issue may prove untenable in a state that’s becoming increasingly Democratic in Presidential elections.

The Nevada Senate race starts out about as tight as it can be. But Hillary Clinton’s strength in the state and the continued growth of voters in Democratic friendly demographic groups leave Catherine Cortez Masto pretty well positioned for next year.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 677 Nevada voters on July 13th and 14th on behalf of Senator Majority PAC. The survey’s margin of error is +/-3.8%. 39% of those surveyed were Democrats, 34% were Republicans, and 27% were independents or members of other parties.