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United States Senate elections in Nevada, 2012

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2012 U.S. Senate Elections in Nevada

CandidatesPollsElection History

November 6 Election Winner:
Dean Heller Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Dean Heller Republican Party
Dean Heller.jpg

Cook Political Report Race Rating
     Tossup (Prior to election)

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2012 U.S. House Elections

Flag of Nevada.png
Voters in Nevada elected one member to the U.S. Senate in the November 6, 2012 elections.

Incumbent Dean Heller (R) won re-election to the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2012 narrowly defeating Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley with a little over 1% of the vote.[1]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
March 16, 2012
June 12, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: Nevada has a closed primary system, in which the selection of a party's candidates in an election is limited to registered party members.

Voter registration: Voters had to register to vote in the primary by May 12, 2012. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 6, 2012.[2]

See also: Nevada elections, 2012

Incumbent: The election filled the Class 1 Senate seat, which was held by Dean Heller (R). First appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2010, Heller ran for and won re-election in 2012.

An October 2012 article in The Hill predicted both parties had an equal opportunity at holding control of the Senate after the November election. Specifically, three races were named that could cost the GOP control of the chamber -- Indiana, Massachusetts and Nevada.[3]


Note: Election results were added on election night as races were called. Vote totals were added after official election results had been certified. For more information about Ballotpedia's election coverage plan, click here. If you find any errors in this list, please email: Geoff Pallay.

General election candidates

Democratic Party Shelley Berkley
Republican Party Dean Heller Green check mark transparent.png
Constitution_Party#Independent_American_Party_of_Nevada David Lory VanderBeek

June 12, 2012, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic primary

Republican Party Republican primary

Constitution_Party#Independent_American_Party_of_Nevada Independent American Party

Election results

U.S. Senate, Nevada, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Shelley Berkley 44.7% 446,080
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDean Heller Incumbent 45.9% 457,656
     Independent American Party of Nevada David Lory VanderBeek 4.9% 48,792
     N/A None of these candidates 4.5% 45,277
Total Votes 997,805
Source: Nevada Secretary of State "U.S. Senate Results"

Race background

Republican incumbent Dean Heller, first appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2011, ran successfully for a full term in 2012. Heller was appointed to the Senate last year after disgraced Republican John Ensign resigned. He served as Nevada's secretary of state before being elected to the U.S. House to represent Northern Nevada in 2006.

In the June 13th, 2012 primary, Heller won with 86 percent over four challengers from his party. As expected, U.S. Representative Shelley Berkley, who was first elected to represent Las Vegas in 1998, overtook four other candidates to secure the Democratic nomination. She appeared on the general election ballot alongside Heller and Independent American Party candidate David Lory VanderBeek.

The November contest for the seat was one of a handful across the nation that could have determined which party ttook control in the Senate.[7]

In July 2012, the House Ethics Committee announced an investigation of Shelley Berkley after she acted to prevent a federal agency from closing a kidney transplant center to which her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, had financial ties.[8]


The New York Times' analysis of the 2012 Nevada Senate race rated it as a toss-up; the seat was held by a Republican, but could have switched to Democratic.[9]

Race rating

Cook Political Report

Each month the Cook Political Report released race ratings for President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House (competitive only) and Governors. There were seven possible designations:[10]

     Solid Democratic
     Likely Democratic
     Lean Democratic


     Lean Republican
     Likely Republican
     Solid Republican

Cook Political Report Race Rating -- Nevada Senate
Month Rating
October 4, 2012[11]     
September 13, 2012[12]     
August 21, 2012[13]     
July 12, 2012[14]     
May 31, 2012[15]     
May 10, 2012[16]     
March 22, 2012[17]     
March 1, 2012[18]     
January 26, 2012[19]     
December 22, 2011[20]     
December 1, 2011[21]     

Sabato's Crystal Ball

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics published an article called Sabato's Crystal Ball on March 22, 2012, detailing the eight races in the Senate in 2012 that would decide the political fate of which party would end up with control in 2013.[22] The seat rated a toss-up that Sabato's Crystal Ball believed was most likely to depend on the outcome of the Presidential election in November was the Senate seat in Nevada.[22] According to the article, "the size of the Hispanic vote in Nevada come November may be more of a deciding factor in this contest than any SuperPAC."[22]


Shelley Berkley vs. Dean Heller

Shelley Berkley vs. Dean Heller
Poll Shelley Berkley Dean HellerNeitherUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Rasmussen Reports
(July 24, 2012)
Rasmussen Reports
(October 15, 2012)
Las Vegas Review Journal
(October 10-15, 2012)
Rassmussen Reports
(October 25, 2012)
Project New America/US Action
(October 27-28, 2012)
AVERAGES 42.6% 48.2% 3% 3.6% +/-4.28 561.2
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Campaign contributions

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2012 elections season. Below are candidate reports.

Shelley Berkeley

Shelley Berkeley[23] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[24]April 13, 2012$375,908.42$1,364,052.11$(715,583.42)$4,407,777.11
Pre-Primary[25]May 31, 2012$440,777.16$651,961.34$(944,024.72)$4,115,713.78
July Quarterly[26]July 13, 2012$4,115,713.78$898,067.71$(985,914.74)$4,027,866.75
Running totals

Dean Heller

Dean Heller[27] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
April Quarterly[28]April 14, 2012$365,076.55$1,076,057.26$(460,763.06)$4,268,370.75
Pre-Primary[29]May 26, 2012$4,268,370.75$443,095.76$(446,645.10)$4,264,821.41
July Quarterly[30]July 14, 2012$4,264,821.41$771,291.85$(586,306.50)$4,449,806.76
Running totals

Election history


On November 2, 2010, Harry Reid won re-election to the United States Senate. He defeated Sharron Angle (R), None of the Above, Scott Ashjian (Tea Party), Timothy Fasano (Independent American), and independent candidates Michael L. Haines, Jesse Holland, Jeffery C. Reeves, and Wil Stand.[31]

United States Senate Nevada General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngHarry Reid Incumbent 50.3% 362,785
     Republican Sharron Angle 44.5% 321,361
     None of the Above - 2.2% 16,174
     Tea Party Scott Ashjian 0.8% 5,811
     Independent Michael L. Haines 0.6% 4,261
     Independent American Timothy Fasano 0.4% 3,185
     Independent Jesse Holland 0.4% 3,175
     Independent Jeffery C. Reeves 0.3% 2,510
     Independent Wil Stand 0.3% 2,119
Total Votes 721,381

See also


  1. Politico, "2012 Election Map, Nevada"
  2. Nevada Secretary of State, "Important Election Dates," accessed July 26, 2012
  3. The Hill, "Opinion: Republicans facing longer odds in bid to gain Senate control," October 8, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 Roll Call, "Nevada Poll Finds Shelley Berkley, Dean Heller Tied in Senate Race," accessed January 6, 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Nevada Secretary of State Homepage, "Candidate Filings 2012" March 17, 2012
  6. Las Vegas Sun, "Perennial candidate Edward Hamilton announces third Senate attempt," accessed January 6, 2012
  7. Associated Press, "Campaign 2012" June 13, 2012
  8. CNN Politcs, "House Ethics Committee launches inquiry of Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley" accessed October 18, 2012
  9. The New York Times, "2012 Ratings Senate," accessed September 17, 2012
  10. Cook Political Report, "Our Accuracy," accessed December 12, 2011 (dead link)
  11. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," October 4, 2012
  12. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," September 13, 2012
  13. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," August 21, 2012
  14. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," July 12, 2012
  15. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," May 31, 2012
  16. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," May 10, 2012
  17. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 22, 2012
  18. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," March 1, 2012
  19. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," January 26, 2012
  20. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 27, 2011
  21. Cook Political Report, "2012 SENATE RACE RATINGS," December 1, 2011
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Center for Politics, "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" accessed April 9, 2012
  23. FEC Reports, "Shelley Berkeley Summary Reports" accessed August 20, 2012
  24. FEC Reports, "April Quarterly" accessed August 20, 2012
  25. FEC Reports, "Pre-Primary" accessed August 20, 2012
  26. FEC Reports, "July Quarterly" accessed August 20, 2012
  27. FEC Reports, "Dean Heller Summary Reports" accessed August 20, 2012
  28. FEC Reports, "April Quarterly" accessed August 20, 2012
  29. FEC Reports, "Pre-Primary" accessed August 20, 2012
  30. FEC Reprots, "July Quarterly" accessed August 20, 2012
  31. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013