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Nevada Senate race seems to tighten; Obama and Romney neck-and-neck

A new poll of the Nevada Senate race by NBC News/Marist has Republican Sen. Dean Heller leading Democratic challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley by a slender margin of 46-44. Heller’s lead is less than the margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Less than a month ago, a Rasmussen poll had Heller leading by 11 points. It should be noted, however, that Rasmussen polled likely voters, while NBC News/Marist polled registered voters. As I noted at the time of the Rasmussen poll, the Nevada seat is held by the Republicans (Heller replaced Senator Ensign who resigned due to a scandal), and it is one the Republicans need to retain if they have a reasonable hope of gaining a majority in the Senate.

NBC News/Marist also polled the presidential race in Nevada. It found Obama leading Romney by two points, 48-46. In other words, Obama is running 4 points better than Berkley, according to this poll. If Heller has a larger lead over Berkley, as the Rasmussen poll suggested, then Romney may be better situated in Nevada than the NBC/Marist poll found.

Nevada has a substantial Mormon population, and these voters may be more likely to show up on election day than the Nevada electorate as a whole. By polling registered voters, NBC News/Marist may be understating Romney’s strength in Nevada and perhaps Heller’s as well.

NBC News/Marist also polled the presidential race in Iowa and Colorado. It found Obama and Romney neck-and-neck in these states too.

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