Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken a slim lead over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, according to a Monmouth University poll. The poll shows that among Silver State voters who will likely participate in the election, 44% favor Trump while 42% back Clinton. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson comes in with 8%.
Eric Herzik is the Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada, Reno. He says that while the numbers represent a six-point shift, they are not significant.
"It confirms what the other polls have told us. This is a very close race," Herzik said.
Both candidates have strong support among partisan voters in Nevada - 88% of Republican voters say they will vote for Trump, while 90% of Democrats support Clinton. Independent voters favor Trump, 43% to 29%. In July, Trump led that category 39-37. Clinton still has a commanding 35-point lead among non-white voters, with a 63% to 28% tally.
Herzik says the deciding factor could be the women's vote, where Clinton has 50% of the vote, compared to Trump's 40%.
"It's broad but it's not expanding and if Trump is able to chip away at that, that would be bad news for Hillary Clinton," Herzik said.
There are 71,637 more active Democratic voters than Republicans in Nevada. Experts say if that number reaches the 90,000 mark, Clinton will win the election.
"Nevada, absolutely dead heat and it's gonna come down, particularly for the Democrats to turnout," Herzik said.
Nevada is one of a handful of states that could go either way in the November election. The latest polls show that the Silver State will remain a critical battleground state from now until the Election Day.
"Nevada, as we have been in most of the recent election cycles, is very critical because we are one of the few states that's truly in play," Herzik said.
Three presidential debates have already been scheduled. They will be held September 26, October 9 and October 19. Herzik says the debates probably will not change much, saying most viewers have already decided on their candidate and are only watching to have their opinions reinforced. Despite that, Herzik says the candidates are still trying to sway undecided voters.
"Trump has become a little more specific on his policy," Herzik said. "He's reading more off the teleprompter. He's trying to act more like a traditional candidate."
Herzik says Clinton has run into a few snags along the way, including her recent bout with pneumonia which raised concerns over the Democratic candidate's health.
That is not the only thing she is battling.
"Clinton's big problem is the issue of trust and she's got to make this connection at a personal level with voters," Herzik said. "She's had a hard time doing that for the last two years."
There are less than eight weeks until voters fill out their ballots. With the race within the margin of error, Herzik says the race could go either direction. A Bloomberg poll also shows Trump with a five-point lead in Ohio. Herzik says that could be significant because Trump cannot win the election without taking the Buckeye State and Florida.
"I think Democrats are scratching their heads, saying 'How can it be so close?' and the Trump people are saying, 'We told you. Our guy has touched a nerve in American politics,'" Herzik said.
The same Monmouth University poll also has a 3-point difference in Nevada's race for Senator Harry Reid's seat in Washington. Rep. Joe Heck has the support of 46% of likely voters. Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has the backing of 43% of the voters.
"One thing I noticed about those poll numbers is that the negatives for both of the candidates have gone up and I think that reflects the advertising that's being done," Herzik said. "Both candidates are just hammering each other."