Heller leads comfortably in two new polls

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) holds a comfortable lead over Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), according to two new polls of the state.

Heller leads Berkley by 46 to 40 percent in a new poll conducted by SurveyUSA for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and by 50 to 43 percent in a new poll from the conservative Rasmussen Reports.

The polls indicate Heller is running well ahead of the top of the ticket, which could prove crucial to his chances: In both polls, President Obama leads Mitt Romney by 3 points. Heller has sought to promote an independent image and has at times criticized Romney.

A recent internal poll from Berkley's campaign showed her with a three-point lead, though partisan polls tend to skew towards their candidates.

Nevada is difficult to poll because of the high number of voters without landlines, its fast-growing Hispanic population and the state's higher-than-usual number of people who work evenings. But poll after poll has shown Heller in the lead in the state, even as Obama continues to lead there.

Both polls were conducted before the most recent presidential debate, which polls show Obama narrowly won. How that debate will affect the presidential election, and the state of down-ticket races, will not be seen in polls for another few days.

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