LAS VEGAS -- Entering the last week before the Nov. 6 election, Republican Sen. Dean Heller is maintaining a 46 percent to 40 percent lead over Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley in the race for his U.S. Senate seat, an 8 News NOW/Las Vegas Review-Journal poll released early Wednesday morning shows.
The SurveyUSA cell phone and landline poll of 1,212 likely and actual voters produced the same margin for Heller as a similar 8 News NOW/LVRJ poll two weeks ago. The latest poll, conducted Oct. 23 through Monday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent. That places Heller's lead barely beyond the margin of error.
In addition to the two major party candidates, Independent American Party candidate David Lory VanDerBeek was the choice of 6 percent, while 4 percent of respondents apiece favor other candidates or remain undecided.
Congresswoman Berkley continues to have an image problem, with 49 percent of respondents viewing her unfavorably versus only 30 percent who like her, a favorability rating of minus 19. Two weeks ago, she was at minus 12. Heller slipped from a favorability rating of zero to minus one.
Heller leads Berkley in these demographics: men, 51 to 36 percent; 18- to 49-year-olds, 42 to 39 percent; those 50 and older, 50 to 42 percent; whites, 54 to 34 percent; those who have already voted, 47 to 45 percent; those who plan to vote before Tuesday, 44 to 39 percent; those who plan to vote on Nov. 6, 48 to 34 percent; Republicans, 83 to 7 percent; independents, 48 to 28 percent; tea party members, 82 to 8 percent; and conservatives, 84 to 9 percent.
He also leads in union households, 52 to 37 percent; nonunion households, 46 to 41 percent; active military/veteran households, 54 to 34 percent; those with some college experience, 47 to 37 percent; college graduates, 49 to 42 percent; middle-income earners, 49 to 35 percent; those who earn more than $80,000 annually, 51 to 40 percent; Clark County residents who live outside Las Vegas, 43 to 40 percent; Washoe County residents, 50 to 37 percent; and Nevadans who live in rural counties, 59 to 25 percent.
Berkley enjoys an advantage over Heller in these demographics: women, 44 to 40 percent; blacks, 80 to 12 percent; Asian-Americans, 44 to 30 percent; Democrats, 72 to 16 percent; moderates, 45 to 39 percent; liberals, 78 to 9 percent; those who don't live in an active military/veteran household, 44 to 42 percent; those who didn't go beyond high school, 44 to 37 percent; those who earn less than $40,000 a year; and Las Vegas residents, 51 to 42 percent.
The two major candidates are tied or within 1 percentage point among Hispanics and non-tea party members.
Among other highlights in the poll:
* When asked who will do more for the middle class, Heller was the choice over Berkley by a 43 to 39 percent margin. Two weeks ago, Heller led 46 to 37 percent on this question.
* When asked who has a better plan for Medicare, both Heller and Berkley received 38 percent. Heller was the choice in the earlier poll by a 42 to 37 percent margin.
* When asked who is stronger on immigration, Heller gained 43 percent to only 29 percent for Berkley. Still, that is slightly narrower than the 46 to 27 percent advantage Heller enjoyed on this issue two weeks ago.
* When asked who has run a more truthful campaign, Heller edged Berkley 40 to 30 percent. Two weeks ago, he led 42 to 30 percent on this question.
* When asked who is more ethical, Heller received 43 percent to 29 percent for Berkley. The margin was 45 to 27 percent in Heller's favor in the previous poll.
Participants in the poll included 607 women and 605 men. Among respondents, 53 percent are 18 to 49 years old, 61 percent are white, 21 percent are Hispanic, 11 percent are Asian-American and 8 percent are black. Some 43 percent already voted and an additional 33 percent plan to do so before Tuesday.
Of those polled, 43 percent are Democrats, 33 percent are Republicans and 23 percent are independents. The ideological breakdown is 38 percent moderates, 32 percent conservatives and 19 percent liberals, with 8 percent stating they belong to the tea party. Some 19 percent belong to union households and 35 percent live in active military/veteran households.
Half of the respondents live in Clark County outside Las Vegas, while 22 percent live in the city, 16 percent reside in Washoe County and 12 percent call rural Nevada home. Some 82 percent attended college or obtained a degree, 41 percent are middle-income earners, 31 percent earn more than $80,000 annually and 29 percent make less than $40,000 a year.