The Reno Gazette-Journal released the first post-primary poll for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District today. It has Democrat Jill Derby within the margin of error against Dean Heller:

    Jill Derby 37
    Dean Heller 45
    moe: +/- 4%

While Jill Derby might still be down by 8 points it has Republicans worried:

Barbara Vucanovich of Reno, who represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District in its first 14 years, has a message for Republican congressional candidate Dean Heller:

You better get moving.

Heller leads Democrat Jill Derby, 45 to 37 percent, in a Reno Gazette-Journal/KRNV News 4 poll of voters in the district that covers most of the state. The poll, which surveyed 600 likely voters by telephone, also showed 18 percent of the voters were undecided.

In a district that has never elected a Democrat, Heller’s slim lead is not encouraging, Vucanovich said.

“I think Dean needs to get busy,” said Vucanovich, the first Nevada woman elected to a federal office and in the House from 1983 to 1997.

And Republicans should be worried, very worried. Dean Heller has been elected statewide (as Secretary of State) three times. That includes more Democratic Clark County which is mostly not a part of rural CD-02. This district is highly Republican and has never elected a Democrat to Congress since it was created after the 1980 census. Incumbent Jim Gibbons (who’s running for Governor) won the election last time around with 67% of the vote. Yet, Heller can’t break 50% in this poll.

And, Congressional Quarterly rates this race as “leans Republican” which is one step away from “no clear favourite”, yet two steps away from “safe Republican”. They have this to say:

The district has a strong conservative lean, and Gibbons dominated his House elections. But his decision to run for governor — he won the Republican nomination Aug. 15 in a three-way primary and will face Democrat Dina Titus, the state Senate minority leader — in a year when the national political atmosphere appears mainly negative for the Republican Party has put this seat in play.

Heller endured a bruising and expensive primary campaign, in which Angle in particular questioned his devotion to fiscal conservatism, and a prolonged aftermath in which Angle questioned the legitimacy of his victory. Derby, on the other hand, did not have an opponent in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary.

The contrast is reflected in the cash reserves reported by each candidate in their pre-primary filings with the Federal Election Commission. Derby had $444,000 left on hand as of July 26 out of $748,000 raised. Heller had just $260,000 left — and that was with 20 days left to go before the actual primary — out of $904,000 in total receipts, which included $108,000 in funds from his personal accounts.

And, best for last, here are the results of a pre-primary poll in April:

    Jill Derby 25%
    Dean Heller 43%

So, within the last five months, Jill Derby has gained 12 points, while Heller remained almost stagnant. Considering that Heller was the strongest Republican opponent against Derby in April (Jill Derby was within the margin of error against Dawn Gibbons (33-37) and Sharron Angle (28-32), who both lost the August 15th primary against Heller) this does not bode well for him.

Here are the complete numbers from the new RGJ poll:

The Reno Gazette-Journal and KRNV News 4 sponsored a series of polls about the Nevada general election that were conducted from Sept 5 to Sept. 7 with 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections. The polling was done by telephone.

The margin of error is 4 percent. Forty-eight percent of those interviewed were men and 52 percent were women. Forty-one percent were Democrats, 42 percent were Republicans and 17 percent were registered as independents. Twenty-one percent of those polled were from Washoe County and surrounding areas and 65 percent were from Clark County and surrounding areas.

2nd Congressional District poll:

    Category Heller Derby Undecided
    All 45% 37% 18%
    Men 49 34 17
    Women 41 40 19
    Democrats 9 77 14
    Republicans 73 7 20
    Independents 43 40 17

First of all, I’d like to question the details about people polled. It’s a little confusing and I would think that this is for the following statewide polls, not for the CD-02 poll. Interesting to note is that Jill Derby is in a dead heat against Heller among women and very close among Independents. Also, that 20% of Republicans are still undecided leaves me wondering whether some Republican voters are still holding a grudge after the close and ugly primary and could possibly stay home (I doubt that people who voted for Angle, a Club for Growth endorsee, would support Derby). In the end it will come down to who the 17% undecided Independent voters will vote for. Thus far this looks like a close race.

More polls are yet to come:

Coming Thursday: Nevada constitutional offices.
Coming Friday: U.S. Senate race.
Coming Saturday: Education First and Minimum Wage initiatives.
Coming Sunday: Governor’s race and marijuana initiative.
Coming Monday: Nevada Clean Indoor initiative Act and the Second Hand Smoke initiative.

Jill Derby’s Campaign Website

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cross-posted from my local blog Turn Tahoe Blue

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