Shelley Berkley’s uphill battle in Nevada

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Nevada Senate race between Republican Sen. Dean Heller and his Democratic opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley is now laboring under the cloud of a House ethics investigation.

Nonetheless, she seems to be “hanging around.” The only poll taken since news of the investigation broke, a survey by AFP/Madgelan taken about a week later, showed Heller ahead by only 3 points.

Despite the thin pro-Heller margin, Berkely faces a decidedly uphill battle. Extremely high unemployment has soured the state on the Democrats. In fact, their registration advantage from 2008 has been cut in half.

Harry Reid managed to hold his seat in 2010. But, as one insider told Politico:

Dean Heller is not Sharron Angle. Shelley Berkley cannot make any of the demands and claims to voters that Harry Reid did. He had masses of Republican endorsers. Shelley Berkley does not. Harry Reid raised about $25 million. Shelley Berkley will not be able to do half of that.

Moreover, unlike Reid, Berkley is not familiar to voters in Northern Nevada, who tend to distrust Las Vegas politicians, even ones who aren’t being investigated for ethics violations. Heller, by contrast, has run for state-wide office — Secretary of State — three times before.

So the odds favor the Republicans holding this Senate seat, as they may need to do in order to displace Harry Reid as Senate majority leader.

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