Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

At this point, few of the top pundits see the Nevada Senate race as competitive or even potentially competitive. Currently, the Cook Political Report (.pdf) rates the race "safe Republican" and Chuck Todd calls Nevada the 17th most competitive Senate race this year -- behind even Florida, where Democrat Bill Nelson is just crushing the train wreck that is Katherine Harris.

It's fairly clear that the Nevada Senate race is not yet competitive; Ensign holds a massive fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger Jack Carter, and most polling from the race shows Ensign with a lead in the double digits. Nevertheless, these numbers don't paint the entire picture of this race.

Let's start with Ensign's numbers. According to the latest polling from SurveyUSA, Ensign's approval rating is not great -- but not terrible, either -- with 50 percent of Nevadans approving and 37 percent disapproving. Looking at the trend for these numbers, however, one notices that Ensign's disapproval rating is up 5 points since February, an increase that has been driven more by Independents (disapproval up 7 points) and Republicans (disapproval up 6 points) than by Democrats (disapproval up only 2 points). In fact, if Nevada Democrats were a little less approving of Ensign (currently 42 percent of party members in the state approve of the conservative Senator), Ensign's numbers would surely be much lower -- perhaps even in the net negative territory.

Just as Ensign's net approval ratings have been diminishing in recent months, so too has his lead over Carter, the son of the 39th President. A poll commissioned last month by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed Ensign with a seemingly insurmountable 60 percent to 27 percent lead over Carter. But just a few short weeks later, a seperate poll from the Reno Gazette-Journal shows Ensign's lead to be more than a dozen points smaller at 52 percent to 32 percent.

While the Nevada Senate race might not be competitive yet today, it's becoming more and more clear that there is a possibility that it will become competitive before the election season is out. Sure, Carter -- who has been doing a great job of reaching out to the netroots with the help of his daughter Sarah and who spoke with MyDD just last month -- needs to do a better job of introducing himself to Nevadans, and particularly Nevada's Democrats. What's more, Carter needs to bulk up his fundraising numbers soon. (You can help by visiting his website.)

That all said, the numbers from this race don't lie; Ensign isn't the most popular politician these days, and if a Democratic candidate can whip party members into line by election day, Harry Reid just might have another Democratic vote as he seeks to become Senate Majority Leader in January.

Tags: Jack Carter, John Ensign, NV-Sen, Senate 2006 (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

the thing is...

Jack is doing the right thing, he's going to the rural folks and talking to them, going where Ensign is strong, instead of staying in the big populous areas.

If he could just raise enough money to make a few "introduction" ads targeted to those areas, I think it would pay dividends to be sure.

The sad fact is that he's just not known, but when people find out about him they want to know more, which is something not every candidate can say.

I really, really, really thing that Carter's campaign should be a focus of the Netroots.

$$$ go a long way in NV.

Plus, as I have diaried, he's a class act!

-C.

by neutron 2006-05-24 02:02PM | 0 recs
Independent vote can influence the rest

Independents in Nevada are worth it - Harry Reid, for example, is a strong democrat - that would be sufficient to qualify him for being an independent democrat given the simpering weakness that has been the hallmark of the past five years.

I think indies, if they are properly courted - can get fairly disgusted fairly quickly with the GOP and  be able to convey it. The Dems have been branded into a corner in the silver mining state.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-05-24 02:23PM | 0 recs
What CA dist has no Dem filed in yet?

by Chasm 2006-05-24 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

The "business" in Las Vegas wanted Oscar Goodman to run because of his notoriety, but also because he isn't very progressive about the gaming industry and their insatiable need for low skilled labor.

Carter's whole dilemma is how to get Las Vegas to accept him without the unions mobilizing behind him.

by risenmessiah 2006-05-24 06:40PM | 0 recs
well also...

Oscar, while a colorful character... may not be the candidate we would want to run in a year when we're trying to make ethics and issue.

i'll leave it at that.

As for Carter, where will the Union's go?
Ensignificant?
-C.

by neutron 2006-05-24 10:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

The gaming industry actually isn't too bad when it comes to unions.  It depends which company you're talking about, but many of them (especially on the Strip) work a lot more closely with unions than in most other states.  Nevada's percentage of unionized workers is about double that of most other states, and a lot of that has to do with the powerful Culinary Union that represents casino-workers.  Las Vegas is one of the few places working where some guy who barely finished high school (like my dad, for instance) can still work his way up to upper management of a casino.

by adoubleplusgood 2006-05-25 12:57AM | 0 recs
Wha?

Almost no one in Vegas wanted Goodman to run except political journalists. But I have no idea what you are getting at about "low skilled labor" and "Las Vegas to accept him without the unions ..."

The only thing that could possibly make this race close would be all-out support from Las Vegas unions, which is not going to happen -- in part because Carter hasn't made it at all clear that he's "very progressive" about anything.

Look, I donated to the guy and hope he wins, but he's a semi-retired stock broker who moved here 18 months ago and has yet to show any sign he can make this a competitive race or, more importantly, that he'd be a good Senator.  YEs, it would be great to defeat Ensign and have Carter in, but I am baffled as to the interest he generates out there ...

while self-appointed "netroots" leaders entirely ignore the truly grass-roots, progressive candidacy going on in Nevada, with a real chance of winning, Dina Titus for Governor. She's facing better-funded, conserative opponents in both the Dem primary and general election, but recent polls show she's holding her lead in both.

That means she's got a great chance if she can get support, so Jonathon Singer, why not do a write-up on her campaign?

by desmoulins 2006-05-25 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Wha?

That means she's got a great chance if she can get support, so Jonathon Singer, why not do a write-up on her campaign?

Why don't you? No snark intended. This is MyDD and anyone can post good info. If you're close enough to the campaign to see its merits, you're probably the best person to write it up.

I will point out that electing another (D) Senator from NV does get us that much closer to a majority in the Senate. Unlike the governorship.

by KB 2006-05-25 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Wha?

I have been on dkos; each diary gets about 3 readers. Singer gets front page.

Kos hasn't ever shown any interest in the race cuz he's told its a no-go by his contacts with Reid (who is supporting the conservative, pro-corporate, anti-choice never-voted-for-a-Dem "democrat" in the primary).

Thats what ticks me off; all this "Crashing the Gate" stuff and yet no support whatsoever for a progressive campaign with lots of volunteers, union support, less money (in a state where corps  donate 100s of thousands to her opponents) and a decent chance to win.

I'll write it if someone would agree to front-page it; email me.

by desmoulins 2006-05-25 08:24AM | 0 recs
Dina Titus...

But can she beat Gibbons?  Two Words "Fair Share".   Can she fix that?  The Rurals are still smarting over it, they have a long memory.  

yeah, Dina is running a great grassroots campaign to the dedicated, but will or can that translate into a November victory?  

I know where my heart lies on this one but my focus must be November.  

I am not convinced yet.

by NvDem 2006-05-25 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Dina Titus...

Well, she's been working every county hard to let people know how good a Gov she'd be for the entire state (energy alternatives to cut gas and electricity costs; limiting growth here in Clark to preserve scarce water resources upstate; better educational opportunities K-16 in every county; cleaning up legalized bribery of corporate developers and miners running the state), much more so than Gibbons who's recent past is much more threatening to rural NV (Gibbons: raising mercury pollution levels for mines, voting to give tax breaks to oil companies which raise gas prices that hit rural voters hardest, voting to cut medicate/medicaid that hits the poorer and less well insured rural voters much harder) and seems like response has been positive. And she's not really running "to the dedicated," since most of her efforts have been at winning over voters she'll need in November; she's already got strong support from the Democratic "dedicated" base.

And polls show she can win in November if she has the support she needs to compete. Hence my feeling that folks who read this site might be interested in helping.

by desmoulins 2006-05-25 08:13AM | 0 recs
Senator Penn and Teller

Las Vegas is a city where much of the workforce are illegal aliens. That's not to say that there are not as mentioned, plenty of people who have jobs in the expensive restaurants, stores, shows, etc that are not.

The unions are not going to get behind Carter for the simple fact that they play ball with the casinos who are not particularly progressive. Remember...the Mob used to simultaneously run unions back east and fund their gaming ventures out here simultaneously.

Carter can't rely on union machinery to gain popularity in Las Vegas...he will have to run a lot of TV ads, which are bound to be costly.

But nevertheless, the guy the Democrats really need to court isn't Oscar Goodman, Dina Titus, Jack Carter or the others....they ought to draft Penn Jilette when he's tired of peforming. He would make a great senator...since he's used to blathering on in front of people while he's taking their money and he espouses excellent progressive values.

by risenmessiah 2006-05-25 11:53PM | 0 recs
Wrong read on this one

Las Vegas is majority Dem and about 80% of the State's population.  Carter should be able to carry Las Vegas just because there is a (D) next to the name.  However, it will only get him up 1%-3% over Ensign.  

CW has been that Las Vegas carries the state, that's not true anymore.

The real key is the Rural counties, which have voted overwhelmingly   Repub. by 70% to 80%.  If the strategy is to convert the Rurals, we will have a new freshman Senator in November.

Also, the netroots can help with this campaign as Reid and Ensign have an agreement not to attack each other (but that's another story), so Carter can't expect much overt help from the Reid camp.   Donate to the Carter Campaign

by NvDem 2006-05-25 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Wrong math

LV is nowhere near 80% of state population. Clark County as a whole, which breaks about 52 or 53 to 47 or 48 Dem, cast 525K votes in 04 out of just over 800K statewide. So thats about 60%; Nye and Washoe are about 10% each. So rural counties are only about 20% of state voters and Bush carried those by a lot but not 80%; it was about 100K to about 55K in 04, which is again low 60% not 80.

Carter who has no roots in Clark County and has done little to win support from the big gotv machines (Culinary, SEIU, AFL-CIO, to a much lesser extent NSDP volunteers) will be unlikely even to win Clark; Ensign will score better than Bush did since he's represented part of Clark since at least 94.

Sorry; as I said, I've supported Jack financially and will volunteer too but the real grass-roots, progressive candidate who has been workign for years to prepare for this race and can really turn NV blue -- if she can overcome the hard-core right-wing opposition to what she represents-- is Dina.

by desmoulins 2006-05-25 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

Here, here, Neutron--Carter needs more $ and support.

by myrnatheminx 2006-05-24 08:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

As far as the great issues of the day, where would Carter fall on a scale of 100 if Boxer was a 95 and Lieberman was a 30 and Ben Nelson a 20?

by DownWithTyranny 2006-05-24 09:52PM | 0 recs
I don't think he's taken those scorecard things,

but everything i've seen seems to place him as a pragmatic populist progressive of the highest order, somewhere between Feingold and Boxer, perhaps Harkin??

meaning:
awesome!

-C.

by neutron 2006-05-24 10:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

The thing about the Review-Journal is, its polls tend to skew more to the right than those of the Gazette-Journal.  So there might not be as much real movement there as you think.

by adoubleplusgood 2006-05-25 12:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Ensign Still Not in the Clear in Nevada

Speaking of Nevada ... of the 15 seats the Dems need to turn from red to blue to win the House, two very viable contenders are in Nevada -- Tessa Hafen in CD3 and Jill Derby in CD2. Just fyi.

by lv gleaner 2006-05-26 02:47PM | 0 recs

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