Republican Mark Amodei appears to be headed for an easy victory in Tuesday's special election to replace Dean Heller as the Representative from Nevada's 2nd Congressional District. He's polling at 50% to 37% for Democrat Kate Marshall with 2 third party candidates combining for 8% and 5% of voters still undecided.
When PPP polled this race three weeks ago it was considerably more competitive with Amodei ahead only 43-42. Marshall had 2 things going for her then that are no longer the case. The first was that Democrats were more enthused about her, giving her 86% of their votes, than Republicans were about Amodei who had only 77% of the GOP vote locked down. That has now flipped with 83% of Republicans planning to vote for Amodei while only 74% of Democrats say they'll vote for Marshall.
The second big thing that has changed is who's planning to come out and vote on Tuesday. On the first poll 48% of those surveyed reported having voted for Barack Obama in 2008, almost identical to the 49% of the vote he received in the district. Now only 43% of those planning to vote in the election self report having voted for Obama, an indication that an enthusiasm gap has developed and Republicans are more likely to turn out than Democrats. That's something that's already been seen in the early voting numbers for the race.
Marshall has not proven to be a strong candidate. 37% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 50% with a negative one. But she's also losing because of things out of her control. Barack Obama's approval rating in the district is only 33% with 59% of voters unhappy with the job he's doing. It would be very difficult for Democrats to win any open seat race where the President's that unpopular. Obama trails Mitt Romney by a 53-37 margin in the district and is down 52-40 to Perry as well. Given that the district split evenly in 2008 if you extrapolate those numbers statewide Obama's 12 point victory over John McCain last time would now look like a tie with Perry and a small disadvantage against Romney.
There's one thing the numbers make very clear- Republicans dodged a bullet when Sharron Angle was kept out of the race. Only 24% of voters in the district have a favorable opinion of her to 63% with a negative one and in a hypothetical head to head with Marshall she would trail 47-40. The fact that Amodei polls 20 points better than Angle really makes you wonder what would have happened to Harry Reid with a serviceable opponent.
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