A Suffolk University poll of likely voters in Nevada shows Democrat Hillary Clinton opening up a 6-point lead over Republican businessman Donald Trump, 44 percent to 38 percent, in the aftermath of the first presidential debate.

In an August Suffolk University poll of Nevada voters, Clinton led Trump by 2 points, 44 percent to 42 percent.

“Hillary Clinton’s strong debate performance resonated with women in Nevada,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “There was a corresponding increase in Donald Trump’s unfavorable rating, and fewer voters see him as honest and trustworthy.”

Among debate watchers, 57 percent said that Clinton won the debate, while 23 percent said Trump was the winner, and 12 percent called it a draw. When likely voters were asked who performed better than expected, Clinton was the choice of 60 percent to Trump’s 27 percent, while 5 percent said both candidates exceeded their expectations. The poll was taken in the three days immediately following the first general-election debate by the major-party candidates.

Among women, Clinton bested Trump by 15 points, 49 percent to 34 percent. This was higher than the 5-point margin in August, 44 percent to 39 percent.

Likely Nevada voters gave Trump an unfavorable rating of 59 percent, compared to 55 percent in August. And 61 percent said that he wasn’t honest and trustworthy, notably higher than the 52 percent recorded in August.

“There are many positive data points for Hillary Clinton in this poll,” said Paleologos. “The only reasonably good news for Donald Trump is that Clinton’s 44 percent number never moved in the head-to-head matchup. Trump’s number dropped from 42 percent in August to 38 percent today, but he lost many of his voters to Gary Johnson, not Clinton.”

Trailing behind the major-party candidates in the poll were Libertarian nominee Johnson (7 percent), Independent American Party candidate Darrell Castle (1 percent), and Roque "Rocky"De La Fuente of the Reform Party (1 percent). Three percent of voters selected “none of these candidates,” while 5 percent were undecided.

Issues

Nevada voters said that the number one issue facing the next president is jobs/economy (23 percent), followed by terrorism and national security (20 percent), choosing Supreme Court nominees (11 percent), and education (7 percent), which has moved up several notches to fourth place since August. When voters were asked if they feel more or less safe living in America than they did five to 10 years ago, 48 percent said less safe, 12 percent more safe, and 38 percent indicated no change.

Support for marijuana legalization increases

Nevada voters favor a referendum calling for background checks for guns (66 percent support – 25 percent oppose), and they support energy deregulation (72 percent– 12 percent). Both findings are similar to the August poll results.

One ballot question that moved significantly since August was the question of legalizing marijuana. In August the vote was more evenly split (48 percent support – 43 percent oppose), but 57 percent of Nevadans now support the measure, while 33 percent are opposed.

U.S. Senate

In the fight to succeed Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Republican Joe Heck (38 percent) led Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto (35 percent), with other candidates collectively receiving 2 percent; “none of these candidates,” 4 percent; and 18 percent undecided. In August, Heck and Masto were tied at 37 percent each.

History

Among the nine polls taken within three weeks of the 2010 Senate general election, only the Suffolk University poll predicted a win for Sen. Harry Reid, according to the RealClearPolitics website. The other eight polls showed Republican Sharon Angle winning. The Suffolk poll predicted a 3-point Reid win; he won by 5.6 percent.

In the 2012 presidential election, the final Suffolk poll predicted a 2-point lead in Nevada for Barack Obama, who ended up prevailing over Republican Mitt Romney by nearly 7 percent.

Methodology

The Nevada survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Sept. 27-29 using live telephone interviews of households where respondents indicated they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the 2016 general election. All interviews were conducted after the Monday night debate. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.