In Nevada, a close contest could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate for the second half of Joe Biden's presidential term.
The outcome of the election between the current Democratic Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Republican Adam Laxalt, a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, could be decided by Latino voters, according to a Univision News poll.
Cortez Masto is in a statistical dead heat, with a lead of just two points over Laxalt that falls within the poll's margin of error (3.1%).
That lead is due in large part to Latino registered voters in the state, 60% of whom favor the Democrat with only 27% backing the Republican. White voters, who are also included among the 1,000 surveyed, give Laxalt an edge by a 16-point margin: 51% - 35%.
In the equally close race for governor, Latinos may also be the deciding factor. According to the poll, the Democratic party’s incumbent governor, Steve Sisolak, leads Republican Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo, by a slim two-point margin (43% - 41%). The lead is at least partly supported by Latinos who favor Sisolak by a wide 34-point margin (60% -26%) similar to the gap in the Senate race.
As in Texas, where Univision News conducted another poll prior to the November 8 elections, the rising cost of living -which reached 8.2% annually in September, among the highest levels in the last 40 years- dominates the concerns of registered voters and could become a deciding factor when casting their vote.
Inflation was viewed by 55% of respondents as the biggest problem facing the administration and the new Congress that will emerge from this election cycle. But while Latinos believe Democrats can handle the problem better than Republicans by a 19-point margin (45% -26%), White voters think the opposite, with 48% putting their faith in the Republican party and only 24% opting for the Democratic party.
Abortion rights mobilized a significant share of the electorate this summer after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. But it has since fallen in the list of voter concerns, dropping to fourth place among registered voters in Nevada. Abortion remains a priority for only 18% of voters. Although it rises slightly for women (22%) it is still far behind economic issues.
One of these is the cost of health care, which has been a recurring concern of Nevada voters. In a poll conducted by Univision News in 2020, health care costs were the top concern of Latino registered voters in the state, with 32% listing it as a priority. That number is now down to 24%. That is higher than White voters (18%), who are more concerned with border security.
Latinos represent 17% of registered voters in the state, and lean Democratic, giving them an important say in close races such as Senate and the governorship.
They will also have a say in some House races. Opinions about the current Congress are divided and voters are unhappy with legislators from both parties. When it comes to voting, however, there is a slight tilt toward Republicans. But it is a small margin and either outcome is possible, which gives more power to Latino voters. According to the survey, 60% of Latinos plan to vote or are inclined to vote for a Democrat for the Lower House.
Unlike Texas, where Biden's low favorability rating is not helping Democrats, in Nevada it may not be as detrimental. Overall, 53% of registered voters in the state have an unfavorable opinion of Biden, while 44% who view him favorably. Among Latinos, the president’s favorability rises to a respectable 61%.
Polarization remains very high in Nevada, however. Former President Donald Trump is viewed favorably by 51% of voters, against 45% who hold an unfavorable opinion. Among Latinos, his favorability drops to 33%, with 61% viewing him negatively.
Trump's unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud in 2020 seem to have become ingrained in the political debate, at least among a good part of the electorate that identifies with the Republican Party. A minority of 31% of voters think voter fraud is a big problem that could affect the electoral outcome. Despite the lack of evidence of voter fraud, an additional 37% think that even if it does not change the results, it is a real problem.
The poll was conducted by a bipartisan academic team led by Univision News Polling Director and LBJ School professor Sergio Garcia-Rios, in collaboration with BSP Research and Shaw & Company Research.
Methodology: Univision News commissioned a representative survey with Nevada registered voters age 18 and over. Interviews for this survey were conducted between October 12 and October 19, 2022. Data were collected using both probability and non-probability sample sources for a total of 1000 observations. The overall margin of error for the combined sample is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. The survey includes an oversample of Latino (n= 400, MOE +/- 4.9). The margin of sampling error may be higher for other subgroups. Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone, text-to-web, and online self-completed interviews; all respondents were verified to be registered voters. We provide results for all registered voters (n=1000) and among likely voters (n = 721). The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered by BSP Research and Shaw & Co.