Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | 1:20 p.m.
A poll taken for Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley shows the congresswoman with a slim lead – right at the margin of error – over GOP Rep. Dean Heller in a prospective matchup for the U.S. Senate. But a Democratic source familiar with Berkley’s thinking tells me she remains “torn” over the decision, unsure whether to give up a House seat for life for what would be an uncertain foray.
The poll was taken of 600 registered voters by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman from March 13-15 and has a margin of error of about 4 percentage points. Mellman, you may recall, was Harry Reid’s pollster during his 2010 re-election bid and his numbers were unerring.
The initial horse race in the poll shows it 42-38, Berkley. After the same number of positive and negative arguments are made for each candidate, it’s 46-40, Berkley. (I never put much stock in these because campaigns on paper rarely are the same in reality. Right, Sen. Sue Lowden?)
The survey also showed that approximately half of the electorate doesn’t have a fully formed idea of who Heller is, which from now on will be referred to as Heller’s Southern Problem. (Berkley, if she runs, may have a Northern Problem.)
Said one Democrat: “It shows Dean Heller does not exert the kind of magical hold on Nevada that Republicans assume.”
Berkley, from what I understand, is encouraged by the poll but unsure whether to give up her seat. But she now has most of the data that she can gather, including the certainty that if she gets in, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will suddenly become her new best friend. But is it worth it?
We should know within the next month, I’d guess, if not sooner.