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Apparently having well-publicized affairs with your staff members and tapping your parents' fortune to help sweep them under the rug doesn't help your reelection prospects, at least not if you're John Ensign.

PPP polled Ensign's reelection prospects for 2012, and the once-popular Senator who cruised to victory in 2000 and 2006 now trails every Democrat.

Public Policy Polling. 1/3-5. Registered voters. MoE 3.2%.

Oscar Goodman (D) 45
John Ensign (R) 35

Shelley Berkley (D) 45
John Ensign (R) 42

Catherine Cortez Masto (D) 44
John Ensign (R) 42

Ross Miller (D) 40
John Ensign (R) 39

Berkley is the Congresswoman from the First District, encompassing most of Las Vegas. Goodman is the popular if controversial former mayor of Las Vegas. Catherine Cortez Masto is the state Attorney General, and Ross Miller is the Secretary of State (and son of well-liked former Gov. Bob Miller.

All of them post leads on the beleaguered Ensign, despite limited name recognition:

What's most remarkable about Ensign trailing all of the Democrats is that none of them are particularly well known at this point. 34% of voters in the state have no opinion about Goodman and it's 35% for Masto, 37% for Berkley, and goes all the way up to 50% for Miller. Their leads over Ensign would be more likely to increase than anything else if any of them was actually to enter the race and become better known across the state.

Fortunately for the Republicans, they do have one candidate who posts substantial leads over all the Democrats polled: Second District Rep. Dean Heller, Nevada's former Secretary of State.

Dean Heller (R) 45
Oscar Goodman (D) 38

Dean Heller (R) 46
Catherine Cortez Masto (D) 37

Dean Heller (R) 46
Ross Miller (D) 34

Dean Heller (R) 51
Shelley Berkley (D) 38

Heller might not run, and could actually lose a primary against Ensign if he's unlucky - this is a state GOP that just nominated Sharron Angle, after all. But if he does run, he certainly looks like a formidable GOP candidate.

Some notes:

Heller's numbers are very good, but a big reason for that is that Republicans are almost universally for him, while there are an unusually large number of undecided Democrats in this poll. Assume that the Dems come home for the Democratic candidate, and all of a sudden the matchups against Heller are much closer. In fact, Catherine Cortez Masto actually beats him right now among independents.

Ensign actually polls stronger among women than men. Who knew?

Miller has the lowest name recognition, but has very strong numbers among those who do know him (34% have a favorable opinion of him, 16% unfavorable).

Goodman (45/21) and Heller (46-23) have the best overall favorables, though Miller's aren't far behind, and everyone but Ensign is in positive territory.

Overall, it looks to be a tough road to reelction for John Ensign, and much better news for the GOP if they get Dean Heller (although not a sure thing).

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:30 AM PST.

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