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Republican pollster finds Rosen with narrow lead over Brown in Senate race

Brown leads Republican nominees in a sample primary ballot, but undecided voter totals remain high for both the primary and general elections.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Election 2024Elections

A new poll of likely Nevada voters commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) shows Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) narrowly leading potential Republican challenger Sam Brown ahead of her 2024 re-election bid. 

In a hypothetical ballot, 45 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for Rosen while 40 percent chose Brown. Ten percent remained undecided, while 5 percent selected none of the above.

The poll, which was reviewed by The Nevada Independent, was conducted by the Tarrance Group, a Republican firm that did polling for Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s 2022 election, from Oct. 23 to 26 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percent. It overrepresented voters with a college degree relative to the population of Nevada, but pollsters said the sample’s demographics fell within the norm of its polling over the last several years, including surveys for Lombardo. Poll respondents were 32 percent registered Democrats, 30 percent registered Republicans, and 33 percent independents; through the end of September, Democrats made up over 31 percent of active voters in the state, Republicans represented nearly 29 percent, and nonpartisans at 32 percent.

The poll found Brown — a retired Army captain who was nearly killed and severely burned by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2008 — leads the Republican primary field, though he fell short of majority support.  A significant bloc of primary voters remain undecided, the poll found.

The NRSC is backing Brown in the primary, having recruited him to run as part of a strategy to field more competitive candidates after they failed to take the Senate in 2022. Brown previously ran for Senate last cycle, but lost in the primary to eventual nominee Adam Laxalt, and made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the Texas Legislature in 2014.

Among registered Republicans polled, 24 percent indicated they would vote for Brown if the primary was held today. Former assemblyman and secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, a prominent election denier, was second at 9 percent. Air Force veteran Tony Grady was third at 5 percent, and former ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Gunter only garnered 1 percent support. 

But a full 41 percent of respondents remain undecided, with just over seven months until the Senate primary in June.

The poll found President Joe Biden’s approval rating sits at just 38 percent, while 53 percent disapprove of his work as president. But in a Biden matchup with former President Donald Trump, the two are tied. Each candidate received 46 percent of the vote in the poll, with 2 percent undecided and 6 percent supporting an alternate candidate or the “none of the above” option that appears on Nevada ballots.

A memo to the NRSC by pollsters Dave Sackett and Lauren Hutchison, which was shared with The Nevada Independent, found a generic Senate ballot (in which respondents are asked if they will vote for a nameless Democrat or a Republican) to be a statistical dead heat, with 42 percent support for a Democrat and 41 percent for a Republican. 

With a year to go until the election, the memo indicates that Rosen and whichever Republican challenger emerges will need to shore up undecided voter support by boosting their name recognition and defining themselves — and each other — to the electorate. The poll found Rosen has a net positive favorability ratio among voters — 1.3 to 1 — but that 31 percent of respondents had not heard of her, with an additional 13 percent recognizing her name but lacking an impression.

The memo also notes that “hard support” for Rosen lags opposition — only 28 percent of respondents said they would vote to re-elect her regardless of opponent, while 43 percent said they were committed to voting against her. 

Having served a term in the Senate after defeating former Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) in 2018, Rosen will have an incumbency advantage despite the low name recognition against a field of Republican challengers who have never held statewide office. 

In the 2022 Senate election in Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), similarly a one-term incumbent at the time, defeated Laxalt by 0.8 points. Unlike Cortez Masto, Rosen will share the ballot in 2024 with Biden, meaning his support in Nevada could either be a boost or a drag on her odds to retain her seat.

Biden narrowly won Nevada in 2020. His approval rating over the last year has remained underwater in Nevada, though he is running even with Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in a recent CNN poll.


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