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Biden leads narrowly over Trump in new Nevada poll revealing tight contest as Election Day nears

Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
Election 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by 4 percentage points in Nevada a little less than two months from Election Day, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Saturday.

The poll, which is similar to another publicly released survey of the presidential contest in Nevada from early September, shows just how narrow the presidential contest could be in Nevada, a state where many national observers assumed until recently that Democrats had a significant edge. Biden’s lead falls within the survey’s margin of error of 5.3 percentage points.

The poll found that 46 percent of respondents back Biden and 42 percent support Trump, with another 7 percent undecided and 4 percent voting for another candidate. The survey sampled 462 likely Nevada voters over landlines and cell phones between Sept. 8 and 10.

Trump lost the 2016 presidential election in Nevada to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a slim, 2.4-percentage-point margin. And while he lost Clark County overall, Trump won Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, which represents the suburban portions of the county, by a percentage point.

Overall, Trump’s job approval and disapproval ratings in Nevada are about even, with 47 percent saying they strongly or somewhat approve of his performance as president and 48 percent saying they strongly or somewhat disapprove. 

The poll found that Biden is viewed more favorably than Trump in Nevada. Forty-five percent view the president favorably while 51 percent view him unfavorably, compared to 52 percent favorability and 43 percent unfavorability for Biden.

Though the state has significantly expanded access to mail-in voting this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the poll found that the largest share of respondents actually plan to vote early in-person before Election Day, which has long been the most popular method of voting among Nevadans. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they plan to early vote, with another 32 percent voting by mail and 25 percent voting in-person on the day of the election.

However, the results also show that voting preferences differ significantly depending on with which party the voter identifies, as Trump has cast doubt on the integrity of mail balloting and acknowledged last month that he blocked funding for the U.S. Postal Service to make it harder to process mail-in ballots.

For Democrats, voting by mail is the most popular option, with 51 percent of respondents saying they would do so, while only 9 percent of Republican respondents said they planned to vote by mail. For Republicans, in-person early voting was the preferred method, with 54 percent saying they planned to cast their ballots that way. Nonpartisans and those who identify with other political parties slightly prefer voting by mail, at 34 percent.

The poll also found more support than not for the Black Lives Matter Movement, which was viewed favorably by 52 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 40 percent. Respondents relatively equally reported being more concerned with racism in the criminal justice system, 53 percent, than riots in American cities, 41 percent.

Respondents also generally said that it was more important to them that they have a president who addresses law and order, 52 percent, than a president who addresses the coronavirus pandemic, 39 percent.

Additionally, though Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has received some public criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a plurality of respondents believe the state is moving at the right pace to ease social distancing restrictions and reopen. Forty-six percent of respondents said the state was moving at the right pace, while 36 percent said it was moving too slowly and 14 percent said it was moving too quickly.

The poll also found more of a preference for the federal government to prioritize limiting the spread of coronavirus over restarting the economy. Forty-nine percent of people said the federal government should stop the spread of coronavirus, even if it hurts the economy, while 40 percent said the priority should be to restart the economy, even if it increases the risk to public health.

Trump arrives in Nevada this weekend for his first visit to the Silver State since February. He will rally supporters at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Northern Nevada Saturday night, before heading to Southern Nevada for a Latinos for Trump roundtable, a fundraiser and a rally at Xtreme Manufacturing in Henderson on Sunday.

View the full crosstabs to the poll here and the methodology here.


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