Poll gives Bush, Ensign solid leads in Northern and rural Nevada

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A poll conducted earlier this month shows George W. Bush with a 9 percent lead over Al Gore among Northern and rural Nevada voters and John Ensign 15 points up on Ed Bernstein.

The poll was conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide for Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., in his congressional District 2.

District 2 includes all of Nevada except metropolitan Las Vegas and about 545,000 registered voters. The poll focuses mostly on the Gibbons race and issues in Northern and rural Nevada with questions about the presidential and senate races added at the end.

Kelley Benander of the Bernstein campaign said the poll shows a larger spread than statewide polls in the race to fill Richard Bryan's U.S. Senate seat.

"We've been seeing between 4 and 8 points," she said.

The poll showed Ensign with a 15 point lead and the support of 51 percent of Nevada voters outside the Las Vegas area. Those who are "definitely" Ensign voters make up 35 percent of the total with another 15 percent probable or leaning toward the Las Vegas Republican.

Democrat Bernstein, a Las Vegas lawyer, has support from 35 percent of those polled and 19 percent in the "definite" column.

Benander said part of the difference is in the fact that District 2 has 45,000 more Republicans than registered Democrats, while District 1 in Las Vegas has about the same size Democratic advantage. However, she said she thinks the two are a lot closer than 15 points in District 2.

"I have serious doubts about that number," she said pointing out that even an independent TV poll in Las Vegas put the statewide spread at just 8 percent.

"We started 33 points down," she added. "This is the come-from-behind race of the year."

Pete Ernaut, Ensign's campaign manager, said he wasn't surprised by the margin.

"We certainly feel good about our support in Northern Nevada but we're going to work hard and take nothing for granted through election day," he said.

According to the poll, 37 percent of Bush supporters are "definitely" for the Texas governor with another 10 percent listed as probable or leaning toward him. But that still gives him fewer than 50 percent.

Gore, meanwhile, has the solid support of 38 percent of district two voters, 29 percent of them "definitely."

The remaining are either undecided or supporting minor party candidates such as Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader.

The poll was commissioned by Gibbons, who is seeking his third term as Nevada's northern and rural congressman. It was dated Oct. 11 and based on a sample of 400 interviews - 43 percent of them in the Washoe County and Carson City areas.

Pollsters report Gibbons has a commanding lead over Democrat Tierney Cahill, a Washoe County teacher. His total support was 60 percent of voters while Cahill claimed just 15 percent.

According to the poll data, Cahill's big problem is that only 17 percent of the voters surveyed know who she is. As a result, more than half those who said they would vote for her admitted they were doing so because she is the Democrat.

Gibbons, on the other hand, is known to 83 percent of those in his district with most of those who don't know him located in the Clark County. He also won favorable ratings from 57 percent of those surveyed.


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