Hmmm: Another poll shows Dean Heller's lead in Nevada increasing

A poll from Emerson taken two weeks ago showed him springing out to a seven-point lead but some of the demographic results there seemed … unlikely.

How about a new one from Reuters-Ipsos showing Heller up six? Do we have a trend?

The poll showed Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz holding the support of 49 percent of likely Texas voters, well ahead of the 44 percent supporting Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke. A September version of the poll had shown the two essentially even…

In Nevada, Republican Senator Dean Heller widened his lead over Democratic U.S. Representative Jacky Rosen, with the incumbent Republican holding 47 percent support and 41 percent of respondents backing his Democratic challenger. That is wider than Heller’s 3 percentage-point lead last month.

Heller with a bigger lead in Nevada than Cruz has in Texas, huh? Although there does seem to be something of a trend in the Nevada polling over the last six weeks. Here was the state of play before today’s new data from Reuters. The table shows the oldest surveys at the bottom, the newest at the top:

Everything’s coming up Heller, and that’s a big deal when it comes to Senate control. The Democrats need to hold all of their battleground seats and pick up two in red jurisdictions to flip the upper chamber. The two likeliest candidates are Arizona and Nevada, the latter being the only Hillary state from 2016 defended by a Republican incumbent. If Heller squeaks through, it’s almost guaranteed that Republicans will hold a majority through 2020.

But wait. Nevada politics guru Jon Ralston is the man who spotted the dubious demographic data earlier in the Emerson poll. He sees some dubiousness in this new one from Reuters-Ipsos too:

Seems … unlikely. Still, even if Heller falls short, Kevin Cramer’s all-but-certain victory in North Dakota over Heidi Heitkamp means we’ll still be looking at a 51/49 Senate with Democrats continuing to search for two pick-ups. Arizona and … where? Tennessee? Betomania in Texas? Imagine they flipped two of those and still ended up with a 50/50 Senate because they let what should have been an easy win in a deep-blue state slip through their fingers. New from New Jersey:

With two weeks until Election Day, incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez narrowly leads Republican challenger Bob Hugin 51 percent to 46 percent among likely voters in New Jersey, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Menendez’s tight margin stems from the mark his federal corruption trial has left on his reputation, his inability to capture a majority of independents, and a large enthusiasm gap between his likely voters and Hugin’s:

Likely voters who identify as independent prefer Hugin, 50 percent to 43 percent.

Thirty-eight percent of likely voters say Menendez’s trial factors “a lot” into their vote; 16 percent say it factors “some.”

Hmmmm! Five points is the closest the race has been since a poll in late September showed Menendez up by just two. That one looked like an outlier; other surveys taken around the same time had him ahead by six and 11 points. Including today’s result, though, the last three polls of the state have the race at five, seven, and nine points, lending some plausibility to these new numbers. There’s every reason to believe it’s a single-digit race, possibly mid-single digits, which will encourage Hugin to continue pouring big bucks into Jersey to try to pick up late-deciders. The odds of a win remain very long with Menendez consistently polling at 49 percent or better all this month, but he’s easily the most damaged Democratic incumbent running this fall. If something were to happen in the next two weeks that jolted Democrats nationally, that might put Hugin within striking distance of the upset.

Here’s Hugin clubbing Menendez in two ads, and having some fun with the Democrats’ Kavanaugh logic in doing it. Exit question: If I had told you six months ago that two polls would drop on the same day in October showing a Nevada Republican senator with a bigger lead than a New Jersey Democrat, how many of you would have believed me?