Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller is in a politically vulnerable position should he face a primary challenger in 2018, according to a new poll obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF).
The poll, conducted by Strategic National, a Republican-leaning consulting firm, revealed that Heller would face stiff competition from Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei and businessman Danny Tarkanian should either man choose to take on Heller.
In a three-way primary between Heller, Amodei and Tarkanian, Amodei recieved 27 percent to Heller’s 26 percent, well within the margin of error of 4.4 percent. Tarkanian, the son of the legendary University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, received 21 percent.
Head to head versus Tarkanian, Heller received 38 percent to Tarkanian’s 34 percent, within the margin of error. 27 percent said they were undecided between the two.
The poll also included Las Vegas bike shop owner Jared Fisher, former assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, and State Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Heller defeated all three soundly in a hypothetical head to head match-ups.
Heller voted in favor of the GOP Senate’s failed “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, after opposing the GOP Senate’s initial health care repeal and replacement plan. Heller’s political balancing act on health care has irked both conservatives to his right, and Democrats in a state that voted for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
The poll, which surveyed 500 registered Nevada Republicans on Aug. 1 and 2, revealed that Heller holds a 31 percent approval rating, with a 43 percent disapproval rating.
Despite his 31 percent job approval rating, the poll also revealed that 39 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Heller, while 43 percent had an unfavorable opinion. Eighteen percent reported no opinion of Heller.
While Heller and Tarkanian received 100 percent and 98 percent name recognition respectively, 22 percent of respondents reported that they had never heard of Amodei.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Tarkanian, who has ran failed bids for numerous public offices in the state, and 34 percent have an unfavorable opinion. Twenty-seven percent of respondents had no opinion.
The data suggests that while opinions of Heller and Tarkanian may be “baked in,” Amodei has an opportunity to win over additional support with Republican voters that either have no opinion of him or simply do not know his name.
While 25 percent of respondents reported a favorable opinion of Amodei, and 13 percent reported an unfavorable opinion, 40 percent of respondents said that they have no opinion and 22 percent said they have never heard of Mark Amodei.
“The speculation over whether Senator Dean Heller can hold onto his seat in a General Election is a waste of energy because he would be very unlikely to survive a primary,” John Yob, CEO of Strategic National, said in a press release. “Senator Heller’s vote against the ‘clean repeal’ of Obamacare – after voting for the same bill in 2015 – seems to be the last straw for GOP Primary voters.”
Yob, who has consulted for Republican candidates in Nevada, said that it would be “almost inconceivable” that Heller could survive a primary challenger if his approval rating remains at 31 percent. “The undecided voters usually break towards the challenger and if that happens in this potential race it wouldn’t even be close,” Yob said.
Strategic National accurately polled President Donald Trump’s victory in the battleground state of Michigan during the 2016 presidential election. (EXCLUSIVE: Trump Surging, Now Tied With Clinton In Michigan).
TheDCNF reached out to Heller’s office for comment, but did not hear back by press time.
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