Amodei holds double-digit lead in Nevada special election

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Republican Mark Amodei has a strong lead in the special election for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District, according to a poll released Friday.

Amodei leads his Democratic opponent Kate Marshall by 13 percentage points, getting 48 percent to her 35 percent. Tim Fasano, running on the Independent American Party line, got 4 percent, while Helm Lehmann, who is running as an independent, took 2 percent of the vote. Eleven percent of the district’s voters remain undecided.

“Obviously we’re very pleased,” said Amodei’s Communications Director Peter DeMarco. “The poll confirms that Mark Amodei’s message is resonating with voters in this district.”

“The bottom line,” he added, “is Nevadans do not want another Harry Reid clone in Washington, which is exactly what Kate Marshall will be.”

The poll was conducted by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies and commissioned by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group. Marshall’s campaign responded that this makes the poll unreliable.

“It’s no surprise that a highly conservative group like Americans For Prosperity would produce polling with favorable numbers for the conservative candidate,” said Marshall communications director James Hallinan. “However, the poll confirms the same thing that the NRCC knows full well given they have spent half a million dollars in this race and just this week doubled down on their TV buy, that the race is still very much in play. Nevada seniors know Mark Amodei wants to end their Medicare and cut their Social Security, and they also know Kate Marshall will protect that Medicare and Social Security.”

But the consensus seems to be that things do not look good for Marshall in this race.

“Note here that even if every undecided voter broke for Marshall she is still behind,” said Eric Herzik, a professor of political science at University of Nevada, Reno.

Herzik said that Marshall’s “major problem” is that “she is upside down in her favorability/unfavorability rating: 33% favorable, 43% unfavorable. Amodei is at 38% favorable and 36% unfavorable. Both candidates are about equally as well known at 93% (Amodei) and 92% (Marshall). The break on the rating cuts across all age groups which is another problem for Marshall – Amodei has better favorability ratings with those over 65 than Marshall. Given the emphasis on Medicare Marshall has to hope her pull with seniors improves.”

Herzik did not express much confidence that she could pull that off, however. (RELATED: Romney endorses Amodei in Nevada)

“This is a Republican District,” Herzik emailed. “Amodei is a strong candidate and there is no great upheaval – as what happened in NY 26 – lurking in the weeds. Marshall isn’t a bad candidate, but she needs a BIG BREAK and fast.” That big break, he said, was most likely to come in the form of an “Amodei gaffe, but it would have to be a big one.”

“If Mr. Amodei can get Republican voters out to vote, he will win by double digits,” concurred a Republican political strategist. “The NRCC has been aggressive and has done a good job framing Kate. NRCC has really stepped up in this race and Amodei has done a good job hitting the chicken dinner circuit.”

For Marshall to win, “frankly she needs a miracle,” the consultant concluded.

The poll could mean more bad news for Marshall. While the National Republican Congressional Committee has stepped in for Amodei, running a series of ads on television that attack the Democrat on everything from her record as treasurer to her positions on health care and Medicare, national Democrats have yet to enter the fray. Given that Amodei has a double-digit lead and early voting starts next weekend, Republican political consultant Robert Uithoven said, “I think that leaves some of the national Democratic money on the sidelines.”

“She’s going to have to demonstrate that she can tighten this race up, and the clock’s ticking down,” he added.

Uithoven also pointed out that the poll was good publicity for Amodei, “being on the front page of the Reno Gazette-Journal, which is the main newspaper of CD-2.” Amodei has had a lot of good publicity of late: he announced an endorsement from Mitt Romney on Thursday, and House Speaker John Boehner held a fundraiser for him on Friday.