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Brian Sandoval Tops Ranking of Potential Statewide Candidates

Lombardo, Nevada Senators, Other Statewide Officeholders also Make Top 10



PHOENIX (November 2, 2021)- While electoral headlines may be dominating the national news cycle as many Virginians and New Jerseyans head to the polls to elect or re-elect their Governors, Nevadans have more than one year before deciding a number of influential elections in the Silver State.

OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) is releasing its first-ever Nevada Edition of its Power Rankings of popular (and sometimes unpopular) figures in the state, mirroring OHPI’s Arizona Power Rankings. Brian Sandoval, the longtime Nevada politician and current president of the University of Nevada, Reno, tops the inaugural list.


Coming as a surprise to some, given the fact that the bulk of Nevada’s statewide offices are currently held by Democrats, Republican politicos occupy the top 3 spots of the list of most popular (potential) candidates as 2022 approaches. Next year features many first-term Democratic incumbents who either defeated GOP incumbents or won open seats, hoping to retain their seats.


A trio of Republicans top the OHPI list –Sandoval, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and former Attorney General Adam Laxalt would make the most formidable candidates in the state.


Also present in the rankings are Carolyn Goodman and Hillary Schieve. Both of these women are mayors of large Nevada cities, are not affiliated with either major political party, and would have tremendous potential if they decide to set their sights on a higher office.


Given the US Senate’s 50-50 split, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election battle in 2022 will have national consequences, and Adam Laxalt – her primary Republican challenger – is shaping up to be a serious candidate, according to the rankings. Cortez Masto ranks No. 14 among all registered voters, buoyed by a No. 1 ranking among Democrats, but struggling to gain traction with Independents and Republicans. Laxalt, on the other hand, ranks No. 3 overall, as well as among Independents and Republicans.


Much of the discrepancy between Laxalt’s and Cortez Masto’s rankings is due to their crossover appeal (or lack thereof); Laxalt is viewed favorably by more Democratic voters than Cortez Masto is by GOP voters.

Oct 2021 NV power rankings

After winning his first term in 2018 by 4 points, Gov. Steve Sisolak faces a stiff re-election campaign. Many significant Republican candidates are stepping into the fray to take on Sisolak.

While Sisolak ranks No. 10 overall, No. 2 among Democrats, and No. 5 among Independent voters, he is dead last (No. 27) among Republicans. The only Republican challenger who currently outranks Sisolak on the OHPI Power Rankings among all registered voters is Joe Lombardo (No. 2 overall). That being said, former Senator Dean Heller (No. 11 overall) is hot on Sisolak’s heels. Former boxer and attorney Joey Gilbert (No. 20 overall) and John Lee, mayor of North Las Vegas (No. 24 overall) lag behind in the rankings.

"Every important statewide office, congressional district, state senate and assembly district, and a US Senate seat will all be on the ballot next year," says Mike Noble, OHPI Chief of Research. "With that in mind, it's advantageous to get a sense of potential candidates early. The OHPI Power Rankings do just that."

OHPI based its Power Rankings on a recent survey that asked voters their opinions of 27 individuals in Nevada, also asking what voters look for in a statewide office candidate. Notably, the ranking does not consider an individual’s likelihood to run for office – explaining the presence of Brian Sandoval and Harry Reid.


Other than name ID and net favorability – which are common indicators of a candidate’s electoral potential – OHPI has developed what it calls a “Demographic and Experience (D/E) Score” to help rank those who are relatively unknown to the electorate. OHPI considered a potential candidate’s political party, age, ethnicity, gender, state of birth, several different elected offices they may have held, among a number of other characteristics when assigning this score. For a more detailed explanation of how this score is calculated, please see the blog article we have written on the topic.

Oct 2021 NV dem exp score

Notice there is little overlap between the candidates on the “OHPI Power Top 10” list, which emphasizes a potential candidate’s Name ID and favorability, and the “D/E Score Top 10,” which ignores those measures entirely. Candidates who rank higher on the D/E score than low on the Power Ranking (e.g., Steven Horsford, Congressman and Heidi Gasnert, state senator) have the potential to make strong gubernatorial or senatorial candidates if they have the funds to boost their Name ID and keep a positive image among voters.

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Methodology:  This poll was conducted as an online opt-in panel survey. The survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights from October 5-12, 2021, from a Nevada Statewide Registered Voter sample. The sample demographics were weighted to accurately reflect the registered voter population by gender, region, age, party affiliation, ethnicity, and education according to a recent voter file derived from the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office and recent Census data. The sample size was 770 registered voters in Nevada, with a MoE of ± 3.5%. Numbers may not equal 100% due to rounding. 


OHPI Power Score: This score considers name ID, net favorability, and OHPI’s Demographic and Experience score but puts a greater emphasis on name ID and net favorability than the other measure.


Demographic and Experience Score: This score assigns potential candidates points based on how well their personal characteristics match voters’ preferences. For example, 38% of voters preferred a candidate who is a Democrat; thus, the Democrats got 38% of a point. Thirty-seven percent chose a Republican, so Republicans got 37% of a point – and so on. The following characteristics compose this score: party, political experience, birth state, county of residence/representation, experience as a US Senator, experience as a US Congressman, experience as a Governor, experience as a statewide office holder, experience as a Nevada State Senator, experience as a Nevada State Assemblyman/woman, electoral record, gender, age, racial/ethnic minority status, and parental status. Party, age, and gender play a larger share in these rankings than the other characteristics. Click to learn more about D/E Scores.


Media Contact:

Veronica Sutliff, Noble Predictive Insights, v.sutliff@npredictive.com, (602) 390-5248


About Noble Predictive Insights: As a nonpartisan public opinion polling, market research, and data analytics firm, Noble Predictive Insights exists to elevate the world around us by empowering decision-makers with digestible data and actionable insights that translate to data-based solutions. We bridge the gap between research and strategy with customized strategic research, a hyper-focus on impact, and being true partners with our clients. Noble Predictive Insights (formerly O.H. Predictive Insights) is a 2023 Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company in the Southwest region, and is ranked in the top 15 most accurate pollsters as well as in the top 5 for lowest average bias in the 2021-22 election cycle by FiveThirtyEight. For more information, please call (602) 326-5694 or visit our website at www.noblepredictiveinsights.com.

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