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Ralston Reports

Biden, Warren and Sanders on top in new Nevada poll

AFSCME President Lee Saunders speaks at the union's presidential forum at UNLV on Saturday, August 3, 2019. (HuffPost/Courtesy)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are bunched together at the top in the battle for Nevada, according to a new poll.

Biden had 26 percent, Warren took 23 percent and Sanders garnered 22 percent in the survey conducted this month by Change Research and shared with The Nevada Independent. California Sen. Kamala Harris was the only other candidate in double figures at 10 percent, followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent, billionaire Tom Steyer at 3 percent and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke at 2 percent. Everyone else in the field was either at 1 percent or less.

The poll of 439 likely caucusgoers has a margin of error of 4.7 percent, although the company uses an unusual methodology (targeted online ads that drive people to a survey instrument and then the sample is weighted).

With all the usual caveats – it’s early, caucuses are hard to poll especially with Nevada changing how it is conducting its balloting on Feb. 22, Change’s nontraditional methodology, polling just a snapshot (yes, I said it) – some things to consider:

—-The most apples to apples comparison is the last survey the same polling company did. Change Research conducted a poll here in May,  and here are the changes since then:

Biden -3

Sanders -2

Warren +11

Harris -1

Buttigieg -6

Monmouth, a respected polling firm, released Nevada results in June that also showed Warren in second but the former vice president had a much bigger lead. It is worth noting that, as has been reported, Warren has the largest organizational footprint in the state.

—-The age breakdowns reflect what has been seen elsewhere: Sanders has a 39 percentage point lead over Warren (54-15) among voters 18-34. Biden has significant but not overwhelming leads in both the 35-49 and 50-64 cohorts but is in a dead heat with Warren among those 65 and older.

—The Hispanic sample is large (24 percent), and Biden continues to lead there by 8 percentage points over Sanders and Harris. The three leading candidates are close among white voters.

—Warren is the second choice of about a quarter of the respondents. Biden, Sanders and Harris are bunched up at just under a fifth.

—The Steyer number is surprising, perhaps, but he has sent out a series of mail pieces to inveterate Democrats in the last few weeks.

—Some other non-presidential race findings: Gov. Steve Sisolak is the most popular among Democrats (76 percent very favorable or somewhat favorable) while the two senators, Jacky Rosen (63 percent) and Catherine Cortez Masto (61), are not so well loved. (Speaker Nancy Pelosi (70 percent) and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (73 percent) are pretty even. Two-thirds of the respondents favor impeachment.

The bottom line: I know Change’s methodology is controversial, and some believe that it can skew results. I am still a fan of traditional polling, but I am not closed-minded that other methods can achieve good results. And trends matter.

Still, I remind everyone it is August 2019, that what happens in Nevada will be affected by what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire and the many events that will occur between now and Feb. 22.

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