A new poll found that Nevada Sen. John Ensign could be in trouble should he decide to run for re-election in 2012, while Rep. Dean Heller, a potential GOP primary challenger to Ensign, finished well ahead of every Democratic opponent tested.
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, found Ensign statistically tied with Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is seriously mulling the race and would be considered the Democratic frontrunner. Meanwhile, Heller led Berkley by 13 points.
Similar results occurred with other Democrats tested, including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. All three led or were statistically tied with Ensign, while Heller held significant leads over each. Ensign never received more than 42 percent.
Just 26 percent said Ensign should run for re-election, and 35 percent approve of the his job performance. The survey was conducted Jan. 3-5 of 932 registered voters with a 3.2-point margin of error.
Republicans were unable to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) in 2010, despite the fact that he entered the cycle as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country. Sharron Angle won the June GOP primary by double digits, but the PPP poll found that two-thirds of Nevada Republicans now say the party should have nominated someone else.
After losing out against Reid, the poll indicates Republicans are not inclined to nominate the wrong person again.
“John Ensign’s poll numbers are pretty atrocious,” PPP President Dean Debnam said. “Republicans have a decent chance of keeping this seat despite the state’s recent blue trend but they may need someone to take the incumbent out in the primary in order to do that.”