As likely voters learn more about the two candidates running for Senate in Nevada — Republican Joe Heck and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto — their opinion of them has worsened.
That’s one of the findings of a new Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.
The poll found that 36 percent of likely voters had a favorable opinion of Heck, a doctor and a brigadier general in the Army Reserves who represents Nevada’s 3rd district. That percentage has held steady for the past two months.
The numbers for Cortez Masto, Nevada’s former attorney general, are slightly lower — 34 percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of her.
In recent months, both candidates have seen their unfavorability ratings increase. About 32 percent viewed Heck unfavorably (up from 19 percent in July), while about 29 percent had an unfavorable view of Cortez Masto (up from 16 percent two months ago).
The poll gave Heck a 3-point lead over Cortez Masto, 46 percent to 43 percent. The congressman led by 2 points in July.
In the presidential election, GOP nominee Donald Trump now holds a 2-point lead over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, 44 percent to 42 percent. Clinton had been leading by 4 points in Monmouth’s July poll.
While Trump and Clinton drew strong backing from their respective parties — 88 percent of self-identified Republicans support Trump while 90 percent of Democrats line up behind Clinton — the poll found that independent voters in Nevada are trending toward the billionaire businessman.
Forty-three percent of independents backed Trump compared to 29 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.
Two months ago, only 2 percentage points separated Trump and Clinton among unaffiliated voters — 39 percent to 37 percent in the Republican nominee’s favor.
“The race in Nevada is still tight, but the momentum has swung toward Trump,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Johnson also gained ground among independents, up from 10 percent support in July.
The poll surveyed 406 likely Nevada voters by telephone from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13. The margin of error was 4.9 percentage points.