CARSON CITY — Although he isn’t an announced candidate, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has pulled slightly ahead of former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval and well ahead of Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid in the race for governor, a new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll shows.
The poll found Goodman leads Republican Sandoval by 3 percentage points and Democrat Reid by 11 points in a three-way race.
"I haven’t declared yet, but I will have an answer real soon," Goodman said Friday after being told of the poll results. "It is probably the most difficult decision I will ever have to make. I would commit myself 1,000 percent, 24-7 if I decide to run. I would dedicate my life to the job, other than my family."
The poll of 625 residents, interviewed by phone Monday through Wednesday by Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, putting Sandoval within reach of a slight lead.
"We’re encouraged by the numbers, but there is a lot of work to do," Sandoval said.
Goodman received 35 percent of the vote compared with 32 percent for Sandoval and 24 percent for Reid. Twelve percent were undecided.
A similar survey seven weeks ago showed Goodman and Sandoval tied.
"Oscar has cross-party appeal," said Brad Coker, managing partner of Mason-Dixon. "People are kind of frustrated with both political parties now."
Coker compared Goodman with former Maryland Gov. William D. Schaefer, who became very popular during a 16-year reign as mayor of Baltimore before cruising to a easy victory in the governor’s race in 1986.
Like previous polls, the new survey finds Republican Jim Gibbons faring poorly, even if some of his numbers are trending upward from previous surveys.
In a Republican primary match-up, Sandoval would defeat him decisively, 39 percent to 18 percent. Former North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon received support from 6 percent of respondents, while 37 percent were undecided.
Just 19 percent of survey takers had a favorable rating of Gibbons, compared with a 46 percent favorable rating for Goodman, 39 percent for Sandoval and 23 percent for Reid. But in a theoretical Goodman-Reid-Gibbons matchup, Goodman pulls 38 percent and Reid and Gibbons each get 25 percent.
In recent days, Goodman has been looking more like a candidate. He announced earlier this week that his wife, Carolyn, had given her blessing for him to run for governor and that one of his primary goals had been achieved when the Las Vegas City Council approved construction of a new city hall.
If he runs at all, Goodman has said it would be as an independent. To run as such in 2010, he must change his registration from Democrat by Dec. 30.
A separate poll question, taking Goodman out of the candidate mix, showed Sandoval trouncing Reid by a 49 percent to 34 percent margin with 17 percent undecided.
Should the incumbent governor somehow get past Sandoval in the Republican primary, Reid would have a decisive lead over Gibbons, 48 percent to 34 percent, with 18 percent undecided.
Reid spokesman Mike Trask was mostly philosophical about the survey results. "There will be many polls over the next 11 months," he said. "We still don’t know what Oscar is going to do. We will focus on what we have been doing — going out and talking to voters and sharing Rory’s vision."
Although Gibbons still trails badly in the polls, campaign manager Robert Olmer was encouraged that the percentage of respondents who look favorably upon the governor has risen to 19 percent.
That compares with a 14 percent favorable rating in October and 7 percent in June.
"Most people don’t know where the other candidates stand on the issues," Olmer said. "When they start looking at the race, we think they will agree the governor has done the right things all along."
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.