Suffolk: Hillary only up by two in Nevada

Donald Trump’s team can use a bit of good news from a poll, and Suffolk’s survey of Nevada might just brighten their day — a bit, anyway. The poll, conducted Monday through Wednesday this week among 500 likely voters, shows Hillary Clinton in the lead, but only by two points, 44/42. Given the trends of the past three weeks, and Nevada’s electoral history, that’s a relatively positive outcome:

A new Suffolk University poll of Nevada voters shows a statistical dead heat in the presidential race, with Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Republican Donald Trump 44 percent to 42 percent.

Clinton’s strong suit appears to be Las Vegas.

“Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, accounts for nearly 70 percent of the statewide vote, and Hillary Clinton’s lead there is the reason she is winning the state,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “In this instance, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas—it affects the whole state.”

Clinton’s 13-point Clark County lead countered a 3-point deficit in Washoe county and a 46-point deficit in the smaller counties of central Nevada.

Nevada has been a reliable swing state for more than a century. The only election in which Nevada did not go to the winner in the past 100 years was the 1976 election that elected Jimmy Carter. However, the margins of victory were tremendously wide for Barack Obama in the last two elections; he won by 12.4 points in 2008 and by 6.7 points in 2012.

With that in mind, one could suspect this of being an outlier. Nope; the RCP aggregation has showed Nevada to be a virtual tie for weeks. In fact, the polling has remained remarkably stable despite all of the sturm und drang around the Trump campaign since the conventions. The polling downturn for Trump nationally appears to have had no impact in Nevada.

The demos are interesting, too. Trump only gets a 49/40 lead among white voters, but he’s not terribly far off the pace with minorities, trailing 28/57. (Mitt Romney got 24% of the Latino vote and 8% of the African-American vote in 2012.) Hillary leads by 13 in Clark County, which Obama won by 14, but she only gets to 46% there. Perhaps most surprisingly, Trump only trails Hillary by five points with women, 39/44, while holding a two-point edge with men, 45/43. Trump also holds slightly more Republicans (89%) than Hillary does Democrats (82%). Independents prefer Trump to Hillary, but at low levels — 39/34. Most amazingly for a famously small-L libertarian state, Gary Johnson barely shows up at all in this poll, only getting 5% of the respondents.

It’s not all sunshine, though. Among the 14% of voters who didn’t go for either Trump or Clinton on the first question, Trump trails for second-choice status by a wide margin — 18/41. His favorables in Nevada are better than seen nationally but are still underwater by a lot, 37/55. Hillary’s are slightly better at 44/50, and the data suggests she has more upside than Trump.

Still, it’s a pretty good August poll in a critical state, one that Team Trump has to win if its Rust Belt strategy is going to work.

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