Obama Surges to 10-Point Lead in Nevada

Barack Obama has opened up a 10-point lead over John McCain among likely voters in the key battleground state of Nevada, according to a Suffolk University poll released today. 

With just one week to go before the Nov. 4 election, Obama (50 percent) leads McCain (40 percent). The double-digit spread is a marked switch from just over a month ago, when a Suffolk University poll found a virtual dead heat between the two candidates in the Silver State. It’s the first Nevada poll this year to find a double-digit lead for Obama. 

“Barack Obama seemingly has struck a chord with the independent spirit of the West.” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Some of the battleground states that were once solidly Republican are showing blue streaks as we get close to Election Day.” 

A separate Suffolk University bellwether poll of Nevada’s Washoe County finds Obama leading McCain 45 percent to 41 percent. 

In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and, when in agreement with the statewide Suffolk polls of the respective states, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners. 

An overwhelming majority of likely Nevada voters responding to the poll (94 percent) have now made up their minds. Just 1 percent described themselves as undecided, and 5 percent said they may change how they will vote between now and election day. 

The trust factor also has swung significantly in Obama’s direction. Asked which candidate they trust more, 50 percent of respondents said Obama, while 41 percent said McCain. A Suffolk poll released Sept. 22 found likely voters in Nevada trusted Obama over McCain by a much slimmer 46 percent-to-45 percent margin.

Comfort levels

Nevadan voters have become comfortable with the idea of Obama as president, with 35 percent saying they’re extremely comfortable and another 16 percent describing themselves as very comfortable. Just 16 percent of respondents said they would be extremely comfortable with McCain in the White House, and 17 percent said they would be very comfortable. 

The Suffolk University poll shows that Obama has won the perception game in Nevada. Regardless of how they’ll vote, 64 percent of respondents expect Obama will be the next president, with 24 percent saying they think McCain will win.

“The fact that an overwhelming majority of Nevadans expect Barack Obama will take the oath of office in January speaks volumes about how much the electoral map has expanded for the Democratic Party,” said Paleologos 

Nevada has voted Republican in eight of the last 10 presidential elections, dating back to 1968. 

Other candidates in the presidential race backed by Nevada’s likely voters include Bob Barr (2 percent); Cynthia McKinney (1 percent); and Ralph Nader (1 percent).


Among Nevada voters, Republicans are shouldering more of the blame for the recent turmoil in the banking and financial sectors. Thirty-four percent of respondents blame Republicans, while 23 percent blame Democrats, and 30 percent blame neither party.

The economy (41 percent) remains the most important issue among respondents, with taxes (12 percent) second and health care (11 percent) third.

Most likely voters (59 percent) said they weren’t bothered by the recent flap over vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s wardrobe. Thirty-seven percent said they were concerned that the Republican National Committee bought $150,000 worth of clothes and fashion accessories for her to wear. Still, 45 percent said that revelation will make them more likely to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket.


The Suffolk University poll was conducted Thursday Oct. 23 through Monday Oct. 27. The margin of error on the study of 450 is +/- 4.6 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the Nevada statewide survey were likely voters. There were 299 respondents in the bellwether of Washoe County, Nev., identified separately from the statewide poll. Marginals and 135 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site on Tuesday Oct. 28. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.