Nevada Senate Race 2022: Polls & Election Guide

By Leroy Cleveland - April 19, 2022

Given the anti-Democratic sentiment, Republicans believe they can recapture the House and Senate in November. And while many experts are already conceding Congress’ lower chamber to Republicans, the Senate appears to still be up for grabs.

Enter Nevada.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) will likely face former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the general election. And the GOP is giddy about its chances there due to the state’s purple status and the aforementioned political climate.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by a margin of just 48% to 46% while Joe Biden won by about 2.5% over Trump in 2020. And while the current governor is a Democrat, the five previous state executives were Republicans. Hence, it’s no surprise Republicans think they flip a Senate there in November.

Cortez Masto leads her challenger in 3 of the last 5 Nevada Senate polls. Moreover, per an aggregate of RCP top pollsters, her margins of victory are greater than Laxalt’s. However, with just 41 percent of registered voters in Nevada approving of President Biden’s job performance, Laxalt may have some leverage.

PollDateCortez Masto (D)Laxalt (R)Spread
Nevada Independent4/1 – 4/94335Cortez Masto +8
Reno Gazette-Journal/Suffolk4/2 – 4/64043Laxalt +3
Nevada Independent1/19 – 1/264435Cortez Masto +9
Trafalgar Group (R)11/24 – 11/294144Laxalt +3
Nevada Independent9/15 – 9/224641Cortez Masto +5

Secondly, let’s take a look at the pollsters. All three of the above polls won by Cortez Masto come from one pollster, Nevada Independent, while two separate pollsters have Laxalt ahead.

Those who want to remain optimistic about Cortez Masto’s chances can point to Governor Steve Sisolak’s favorability. In February, he boasted a 50 percent favorability rating with 39 percent polling at unfavorable and 11 percent undecided. In addition, he’s bested both of the GOP’s presumptive top challengers in mythical match-ups.

Of further note, the Nevada State Legislature as of 2019 is the first majority-female State Legislature in the history of the United States – And, as of last year, the Democratic Party controls both houses of the Nevada State Legislature.

Advantage: Catherine Cortez Masto

…. But, as we saw in the Virginia Governor’s race last year, a state that simply leans blue isn’t truly blue and is quite capable of propelling Republicans to office in statewide races.

Trafalgar poll
You might have dismissed Trafalgar’s poll showing Laxalt at +3 because it’s a Republican outfit. However, it’s the most reputable of the three pollsters who have surveyed this race so far and they’ve had a knack for picking upsets over the last several years.

Here are just a few of those pics:

  • 2016 Presidential Election – Pennsylvania: Hillary Clinton was ahead 1-5 percent by an aggregate of top pollsters; Trafalgar had Trump by 1 percent. Result: Trump won by 0.7 percent (Major upset)

  • 2016 Presidential Election – Michigan: Hillary Clinton was ahead 2-5 percent by an aggregate of top pollsters; Trafalgar had Trump by 2 percent. Result: Trump won by 0.3 percent (Major upset)

  • 2018 U.S. Senate Race – Florida: Eighty percent of pollsters projected Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson would retain his seat; Trafalgar had Republican challenger Rick Scott winning by 2: Result: Scott won by 0.2 percent (Upset)

If you’re a Democrat running for office and Trafalgar has you ahead prior to a general election, it’s more than enough reason to smile as they’ve proven to be a worthy outlier, despite – or because – of their GOP tilt.

… But Cortez Masto isn’t ahead in their polling.

If Trafalgar has a Republican candidate ahead by 3 percent or more, it’s usually an indication she/he is a very live dog no matter how far ahead the Democrat sits in surveys by other pollsters. (Laxalt was ahead by 3 in the Tralfalgar’s November poll.)

As of April, this race is very close; certainly much closer than the +5, 8, and 9 percentage advantage we’re seeing in Nevada Independent’s polling.

Analysis: So who has the advantage as of April 18?

It’s volatile.

Those who favor Cortez Masto will want to take into consideration the Democratic governor’s favorability, the majority-female state legislature, and the fact Democrats have won 7 of 10 of Nevada’s U.S. Senate races since 1992.

Advantage: Catherine Cortez Masto.

Those leaning towards Laxalt will point to the political climate, Biden’s low approval ratings, Trafalgar’s polling, and the fact Republicans have been closing the gap with Democrats in the last couple of presidential elections in Nevada. For instance, in 2020 the state voted more Republican than the nation as a whole for the first time since 2004.

Advantage: Adam Laxalt.

And today?

Cortez Masto looks good until you perform a deeper dive behind the numbers.

At this moment, Laxalt probably has a tiny edge. Of course, the election is still over five months away and is clearly up for grabs at the moment.

Cortez Masto vs Laxalt will undoubtedly be one of the hottest races this year.


Tags: nevada senate race