President Barack Obama leads Republican Mitt Romney by 2 points in Nevada (47 percent to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided), according to a Suffolk University/KSNV poll of likely voters in that swing state. The poll is well within the survey’s 4.4 percent margin of error.

“After a strong debate performance, Mitt Romney is within striking distance of President Obama in Nevada,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “However, Obama’s big lead in Clark County – the state’s largest – has enabled his campaign to run up the score. In Washoe County, the results closely align with the statewide numbers.”

Obama led 49-43 in Clark County and 48-42 in Washoe County. However, in the remaining Nevada counties, Romney led 61 percent to 31 percent.

The Suffolk University/KSNV-Nevada poll includes all four presidential candidates who qualified for the Nevada ballot. Independent Virgil Goode and Libertarian Gary Johnson polled 1 percent each.

Obama has edge on favorability

Obama remains more personally popular than Romney, with a 50 percent favorable-45 percent unfavorable rating, compared to 46 percent favorable-45 percent unfavorable for the former Massachusetts governor. Obama’s job approval-disapproval ratings were dead even at 48 percent each.

Of those polled, 79 percent watched the first televised presidential debate last week. Seventy-four percent of debate watchers said that Romney won; 19 percent indicated that Obama won; and 7 percent were undecided.

U.S. Senate race

In the Nevada race for U.S. Senate, Republican Dean Heller (40 percent) led Democrat Shelley Berkley (37 percent), while independent David Lory VanderBeek received 7 percent, with 14 percent undecided.

“VanderBeek’s supporters, along with the undecided voters, are equally important to both Heller and Berkley and may be the key to whether this seat ends up red or blue,” said Paleologos.

Medicare & Social Security

When it comes to reforming Medicare and Social Security, more voters said they placed their trust in Democrats (47 percent), while 36 percent said they felt Republicans would do a better job. Nevada voters were split on whether Obamacare is good or bad for Nevada (44 percent said generally good versus 45 percent generally bad).

 

Immigration

Sixty-four percent of voters supported the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants who came to the United States as children, while 28 percent were opposed. Immigration is the one issue where Obama holds more than a slight lead over Romney. Asked which candidate has a better plan to deal with immigration, 39 percent chose Obama, while 31 percent said Romney.

Voters are almost evenly split on who is better equipped to fix the economy, with 45 percent saying Obama and 42 percent Romney. They said they connect better with Obama (47 percent, compared to Romney, 44 percent).

Nevada taxes

Nevada’s tax environment drew varied reviews, with 47 percent saying that the gaming industry pays its fair share of taxes, 36 percent saying it does not, and 16 percent undecided. The mining industry is seen differently, with 29 percent saying that industry pays its fair share and 36 percent disagreeing.

In the 2010 mid-term election cycle, Suffolk University polling predicted a 3-point upset win for Democrat Harry Reid over Republican Sharron Angle. He won by 5.6 percent. For governor, Suffolk polling predicted an 11-point win for Republican Brian Sandoval. He won by 11.8 percent. In the 2008 Presidential election, the Suffolk poll predicted a 10-point win for Obama in Nevada, and he won by 12.5 percent.

Methodology

The statewide survey of 500 registered Nevada voters was conducted October 6-9, 2012, using live telephone interviews of landline and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are available on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.