CARSON CITY — The two members of the judiciary running for seats on the Nevada Supreme Court lead their attorney opponents, but most voters have yet to make up their minds in the races, a Review-Journal poll shows.
In the race for the open Seat B being vacated by retiring Justice Bill Maupin, Washoe County Family Court Judge Deborah Schumacher has a 9-point lead over Las Vegas attorney Mary "Kris" Pickering, 22 percent to 13 percent. But 46 percent remain undecided. Another 19 percent indicated they will vote for "none of the above" in the race.
In the race for Seat D, Chief Justice Mark Gibbons is leading Las Vegas attorney Thomas Christensen 24 percent to 15 percent with 44 percent undecided and 17 percent supporting neither candidate.
The statewide poll of 625 registered and likely voters was conducted Wednesday and Thursday.
The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. has a plus or minus 4 percentage point margin of error.
Gibbons said he has just initiated a television advertising campaign to tell voters about his record and plans for a second term on the state high court, so the number of undecided voters is not surprising.
"From past experience, many voters are undecided in judicial races until close to Election Day," he said. "It’s better to be ahead than behind, but obviously we have a long way to go."
Christensen said he is disappointed at the high number of undecided voters less than four weeks before Election Day.
"It’s a problem with our election process in general and specifically even more so in judicial races that a high number of voters really don’t have the information they need to make a decision," he said.
Schumacher said the poll results suggest she has a lot of work to do to win over the undecided voters.
"In elections like mine folks don’t get down to the nitty-gritty until close to Election Day," she said.
"I will have to keep working hard."
Schumacher said she was just beginning to run spots on television to tell voters about her background and qualifications.
"We have been doing as much grass-roots work as we can do, and it appears to be having some effect," she said. "That’s terrific."
Pickering could not be reached for comment on the poll results.
Brad Coker, managing partner of the polling firm, said the number of undecided voters is not surprising because they are not high-profile races, and they are nonpartisan, meaning there is no "R" or "D" for voters to hook on to.
Voters usually wait until they see the candidates begin to advertise, or they get a mailer from a group giving them advice on whom to support, before deciding themselves, he said.
Sometimes a candidate emerges with a strong lead in a judicial poll, but here, "no one is really blowing anyone else away," Coker said.
"What did surprise me is the number of people who picked ‘none of these candidates,’" he said. "But whether that means they are going to vote for ‘none of the above’ or not vote in the race at all is hard to say."
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.