Democrats Start With Narrow Advantage in Nevada Open Seat

Nathan L. Gonzales March 27, 2015 · 11:02 AM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s retirement ensures that Nevada will host a top-tier Senate race in 2016.

Reid’s announcement doesn’t expand the map for Republicans, since the Democrat was vulnerable if he had sought re-election to a sixth term. But the open seat is likely to be an expensive and competitive race until the end. 

We are changing The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report rating of the Nevada Senate race from Lean Democratic to Toss-Up/Tilt Democratic. 

Without knowing the field of candidates on both sides of the aisle, the Democratic nominee should start with a narrow advantage in a presidential year. In 2012, appointed-Sen. Dean Heller, R, narrowly defeated Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, 46 percent to 45 percent. But it’s also unclear how much of the Democratic base in Nevada will turn out in an election without President Barack Obama or Reid on the ballot. 

Holding Nevada is important for Democrats in order for the party to gain five seats for the Senate majority or four for control if they hold the White House.