The Hill’s 50 races to watch: Page 9 of 50

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Nevada Senate

Shelley Berkley (D) vs Dean Heller (R)

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is in a tough fight to win a full term to the Senate — but his biggest threats are the state’s shifting demographics and Democrats’ ground game advantage.

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Heller will likely run a few points ahead of Mitt Romney on the ballot, but how far he can pull ahead — and how close the presidential race remains in a swing state with a fast-growing Hispanic population — will likely decide the Senate race.

Heller, who was appointed to fill the seat after Sen. John Ensign (R) resigned in scandal, has led Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) in nearly every poll, but never by more than a few points. Nevada Republicans believe Heller has a slight edge, while the state’s Democrats consider the race a toss-up.

He’s shown he’s worried Romney might drag him down, becoming the first purple-state senator to denounce the GOP nominee’s now-infamous “47 percent” remark and recently running ads touting his independence. 

Democrats privately admit Berkley, with her baggage from an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation, is not their ideal candidate. But they believe President Obama’s coattails, and their superior ground game in the state, organized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), could be enough for her to win. 

The Hill rates this race as a toss-up.

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