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U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., would defeat Republican Jim Marchant by almost five points if the 2024 U.S. Senate election in Nevada were held today, according to polling done for Nevada Newsmakers.
However, poll responders also picked former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt over Rosen if a hypothetical U.S. Senate race were held today between them -- 41.8 percent to 40.5 percent.
Rosen was favored over Marchant, 38.6 percent to 33.8, according to the poll. Marchant is the only Republican of note so far to officially declare he is running.
Yet when asked about their preferred Republican candidate to run against Rosen in 2024, 27.8 percent of responders selected U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City.
Twenty-four percent preferred Laxalt, who lost by 0.8 of a percentage point against U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in 2022.
Marchant came in a distant third behind Amodei and Laxalt in the poll at 12.5 percent.
"These numbers show us that Mark Amodei and Adam Laxalt are untapped resources in the Republican Party," said Vote TXT pollster Bryan Bedera. "Amodei is an institution in Northern Nevada, and he's a savvy politician. He may be the best chance of a GOP pickup in the U.S. Senate, but he won't get in the race unless he knows he can win."
The poll, conducted by Vote TXT, based in Texas, polled 412 Nevada voters during the week of May 15. The poll has 4.83 margin of error.
In April, the Never Back Down super PAC announced Laxalt was taking over as chairman of the political action committee that is encouraging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Laxalt and DeSantis were roommates at Naval Justice School before entering politics.
"Laxalt's numbers show that he remains a very viable candidate after his near miss against Cortez Masto in 2022," Bedera said. "The ball is certainly in his court, but I can see how he might want to sit this one out after running in three of the last four elections.”
When poll responders were asked about what word comes to mind when thinking about Rosen, the answers ranged from "fair and moderate" and "the best choice" to "party hack" and "Democratic puppet."
"Jacky Rosen is going into 2024 with the advantage – she doesn't have to win a scathing primary election," Bedera said.
With the 2024 general election about 18 months away, 18.6 percent said they were undecided on who they would support in the 2024 U.S. Senate election, while 8.8 percent preferred other candidates.
"So what that tells me is Jacky has a name recognition problem and a record awareness problem at this point in time," said Fred Lokken, a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. "And you've got almost a third of voters not knowing her."
Lokken, a former Republican, is now registered as a non-partisan voter.
The poll also shows Rosen's approval rating (combining the responders who approve or strongly approve of her) at 36.2 percent.
Her disapproval/strongly disapprove rating is nearly equal – at 35.4. However, 28.2 of respondents said they were unsure how they felt about Rosen.
Because Rosen is not facing a primary challenger, "she can get right to work on the non-partisan and undecided voters, but she has some work to do there to win," Bedera said. "She is a sitting incumbent representing a state with a rocky economy."
Nevada leads the nation in unemployment at 5.5 statewide, according to various listings. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation's latest listing shows unemployment for Las Vegas at 5.7 and 4.4 for Reno.
While Marchant came in third at 12.5 percent in the poll question about the preferred GOP U.S. Senate candidate, Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian was fourth at 3.8 percent.
State Senate Minority Leader Heidi Gansert of Reno and previous Southern Nevada congressional candidate April Becker tied for fifth at 2.88 percent.
Marchant was endorsed by Donald Trump in his unsuccessful election run for secretary of state in 2022. He is considered one of Nevada's most prominent 2020 Trump election deniers. Also in 2020, Marchant was defeated by U.S. Rep. Steve Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, in a congressional race and sued unsuccessfully to have the results overturned.
Marchant lost the secretary of state race to Cisco Aguilar, 48.9 to 46.6 percent in 2022.
"I find that (U.S. Senate) data relieving because he (Marchant) got far more of the vote in November than he should have gotten," said Lokken. "I don't know who voted for him to get him that high."
Marchant faces strategic campaign decisions before the primary, Bedera said.
"Jim Marchant has to figure out this primary election," Bedera said. "He has some baggage to unpack after his unsuccessful campaign for secretary of state, putting him well behind the generic ballot. And if another well-known Republican jumps in the race, he may have an uphill climb."
Marchant is not well-known in Republican circles despite his two previous races, said conservative campaign consultant Chuck Muth of Las Vegas.
"He got some publicity because of his election fraud claims and all that stuff. But in the secretary of state election, nobody was paying that close of attention to it except the hardcores on both sides," Muth said.
Amodei, during a recent Nevada Newsmakers interview, said Marchant will see that fundraising for a U.S. Senate race will be much more intense than any other statewide political race.
"I guess the scariest thing about it is it has become such a money Olympics, that in pursuit of the money, I think we're missing some substance," he said.
Muth warned of the intense scrutiny that goes along with a U.S. Senate campaign.
"The problem is, with him running for U.S. Senate, every little misstep he makes, everything he's ever said and everything he's ever done (will be scrutinized), and if anyone thinks he is a serious contender for that seat, they are going to rip him a new one."
Muth was disappointed that retired U.S. Army Capt. Sam Brown was not included in the polling. Brown lost to Laxalt in the 2022 GOP U.S. Senate primary. Laxalt won with 55 percent of the vote. Brown was second with 34 percent.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is recruiting Brown to run for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat in 2024, according to a recent report in the Nevada Independent. Brown, however, has not yet announced he is running.
"Sam Brown did very well," Muth said of the 2022 primary against Laxalt. "He raised a boat-load of money. His campaign made a lot of strategic mistakes that could have been avoided but it was his first time out in a big race like that.
"After he lost, he immediately endorsed Laxalt, went out on the campaign trail for him and that was all setting him up to run this time around," Muth said.