With the 2024 election cycle fast approaching, new polling data from Nevada and Arizona reveal a deeply engaged and starkly divided electorate in these pivotal battleground states. The FAU Political Communication and Public Opinion Research Lab (PolCom Lab) and Mainstreet Research polls highlight the intense partisan polarization and motivations driving voter sentiment, including economic concerns, the legal proceedings against former U.S. President Donald Trump, and the potential entry of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as a third-party candidate.

Nevada: Economy and Immigration Among Key Indicators of Voter Decisions

The Nevada poll “makes it clear that the electorate remains deeply divided along partisan lines,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., co-director of FAU’s PolCom Lab and professor of political science.

Trump leads U.S. President Joe Biden (50% to 42%), with Trump commanding a lead in all age groups except the 65+ voters in the state. In the 35- to 49-year-old bracket, Trump leads 58% to 30%. Biden also has a clear youth issue that may help decide the election in that state; in the 18 to 35 age bracket, Trump holds a 50% to 32% lead. Interestingly with Kennedy in the mix, Trump’s lead shrinks from 44% to 40%.

Concerns about the economy (31%) appears to be a major factor driving voter sentiment in the state. Immigration was the most prominent issue for 20% of voters, while the polls identified abortion as an issue of concern for 18% of voters. For the youngest voters, the economy was the biggest concern (32%). Among women, abortion was only the primary issue for 21% of voters. However, among likely Biden voters, abortion was the primary concern as reported by 30% of voters. For Trump voters, economy (45%) and immigration (35%) were the key issues.

A remarkable 76% of Nevada voters said they were closely following Trump’s legal battle over the hush money case in New York. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen currently holds a solid lead (48%) over her Republican challenger Sam Brown (35%).

“Although Biden is struggling in Nevada, other Democratic candidates appear poised to do well,” said Wagner. “With a close divide and motivated bases on both sides, the competitiveness of Nevada could once again make it a crucial battleground in 2024.”  

Arizona: Shaping Up as Another Battleground

In Arizona, Biden’s lead over Trump in the presidential race (45% to 43%) is within the estimated margin of error. When looking at voter age, Biden leads with older voters (52% over 50 and 54% over 65) while Trump holds a commanding lead among those ages 35 to 49 (55% to 33%). Biden commands a strong lead with Black and Hispanic voters, as well as a strong lead with white college-educated voters. Trump leads with white, non-college-educated voters, and those who identify as “other.” The potential Kennedy candidacy also threatens to disrupt traditional voting blocs there by chipping away at support for the two main contenders.

Ruben Gallego, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Arizona, is currently outperforming incumbent Republican Gov. Kari Lake (44% to 37%) suggesting that Lake has had a difficult time getting traction in this race. Like Trump, Lake is leading only with voters under age 49, and more than 20% of voters in that age bracket indicate they are still undecided. The close numbers forecasting a fight for control of the House in Arizona underscore how the congressional generic ballot highlights the intense battle being waged across the state’s districts.

Though economic troubles topped the list of concerns for Arizona voters (30%), “abortion rights and immigration (23%) remain a galvanizing force (18%),” Wagner said.

These results are tied to political affiliation. Abortion is the key issue for Democrats (30%) compared to 7% of Republicans, while immigration is key for 37% of Republican voters but only 11% of Democrats. The economy is important to voters in both parties (27% of Democrats, 35% of Republicans). Voters under 49 years old are significantly concerned with the economy, more so than other issues. Voters over age 50 are most concerned with the economy.

Like in Nevada, Trump’s various legal entanglements were capturing significant attention from Arizona voters across partisan differences, with 67% of voters indicate they were closely following Trump’s New York trial.

“With economic unease colliding with social debates such as abortion, these polls from Nevada and Arizona together depict a recipe for an early nailbiter in two states poised to be decisive battlegrounds in the next presidential race,” said Robert Gutsche, Jr., associate professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies at FAU and strategic lead for the PolCom Lab.

The Arizona poll surveyed 609 adults in the state between May 19 and 21, using IVR and an online panel. It aimed to represent the voting population in Arizona. No margin of error can be assigned due to the online component, but a poll of this size would typically have a margin of error of +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level.

The Nevada poll surveyed 522 adults in the state between May 19-21, using IVR and an online panel. It aimed to represent the voting population in Nevada. Due to the online component, no margin of error can be assigned, but a poll of this size would typically have a margin of error of +/- 4.3% at the 95% confidence level.

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About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students across six campuses located along the southeast Florida coast. In recent years, the University has doubled its research expenditures and outpaced its peers in student achievement rates. Through the coexistence of access and excellence, FAU embodies an innovative model where traditional achievement gaps vanish. FAU is designated a Hispanic-serving institution, ranked as a top public university by U.S. News & World Report and a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

About Florida Atlantic University PolCom Lab: The Florida Atlantic University Department of Political Science and the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, in collaboration in with Mainstreet Research, established the PolCom Lab to investigate and analyze public opinion and political trends across the nation, and particularly in the state of Florida. For more information, visit www.faupolling.com.

About Mainstreet Research: Founded in 2010, Mainstreet Research is recognized as one of Canada’s top public opinion and market research firms. Since our founding, we have been providing actionable and data-driven insights to our clients to help them make their most important evidence-based strategic decisions. Mainstreet Research is a proud corporate member of CRIC and exceeds all Canadian and international standards for market research and public opinion research. For more information, visit www.mainstreetresearch.ca.