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GOP pollster: Sam Brown still leads Nevada Senate primary in internal poll despite Gunter's late push

While Gunter has increased his vote share, Brown’s lead remains comfortable.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Election 2024ElectionsPolls

With three weeks to go until the June primary election, Nevada Senate candidate Sam Brown is supported by more than half of Republican primary voters and has a 38 percentage point lead over his next closest opponent, according to a new internal poll commissioned by the Brown campaign and shared with The Nevada Independent.

Brown, who is backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), received 52 percent of the vote in the poll, while Jeff Gunter — a dermatologist and former ambassador to Iceland — stood in second place with 14 percent. Former Assemblyman and election denier Jim Marchant polled at 7 percent, with another 7 percent split between several long-shot candidates.

Seventeen percent of voters remained undecided.

Though 12 candidates have filed to run in the primary to take on Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) this November, the poll indicates that the contest has effectively become a two-man race between Brown and Gunter — the top fundraisers and the only candidates to air television ads — with Brown still comfortably in pole position despite Gunter outspending him on the airwaves.

In his ads, Brown has sought to positively portray himself while dinging Democrats about inflation and concerns about the border, while Gunter — who is largely self-funding his campaign — has attacked Brown as an establishment puppet who is insufficiently supportive of Trump. 

Gunter has been unafraid to go negative, repeatedly referring to Brown as “Scam Brown” and running an attack ad calling Brown, a veteran with severe burns on his face, the “newest creature to emerge from the swamp.” 

The poll was commissioned by the Brown campaign and the NRSC and reviewed by The Nevada Independent. It surveyed 500 voters from May 13-16 using live telephone interviews and has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. It was conducted by the Tarrance Group, a Republican firm that polled for Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) in his 2022 gubernatorial race and has done extensive work in Nevada.

Gunter’s aggressive spending has boosted his support based on prior polling. An October poll from the Tarrance Group found Gunter winning just 1 percent of the primary vote, while an April polling memo shared with Breitbart News found Brown with a 52-point lead on second-place Marchant, with Gunter only pulling 3 percent of the vote.

But while Gunter might have upped his name identification and vote share, the latest poll results suggest that his ads are having a mixed effect. 

In a memo to the Brown campaign and the NRSC that was shared with The Nevada Independent, pollsters Dave Sackett and Lauren Hutchinson note that while 99 percent of respondents recognized Brown’s name, Gunter’s name identification sat at 61 percent. Brown’s favorability is significantly higher as well, at 73 percent to Gunter’s 32 percent. 

Critically, respondents who said they had seen, heard or read something about Gunter were split on whether it made them more or less likely to vote for him, with 40 percent saying they were subsequently less likely to support him and 42 percent saying what they had seen made them more inclined to vote for him.

“California Democrat Jeff Gunter’s disgusting ads attacking Sam Brown’s wounds that he got from an IED explosion in Afghanistan do not appear to be helping his primary campaign,” NRSC communications director Mike Berg said in a statement, referring to Gunter’s past voter registration in California as a Democrat. 

And as the only marquee Senate race in which former president Donald Trump has not endorsed a candidate, the poll also found that Brown has the highest support among voters who have a “strongly favorable” impression of Trump, at 54 percent. 

The winner of the June 11 primary will go on to face Rosen in a race that political analysts rate as a toss-up. In 2022, Nevada was home to the closest Senate race in the nation, when Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) edged out her opponent, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, by 0.8 percentage points.


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