Harry Reid supposedly felt cheered by the nomination of Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in Nevada’s Republican primary this week. Democrats figured that Sue Lowden presented a much tougher opponent for Reid’s re-election effort and that his stockpiled millions could define Angle as a nutcase who represented the fringe of Nevada’s electorate. Rasmussen’s latest poll shows that Reid has his work cut out for him:
Sharron Angle, following her come-from-behind Republican Primary win Tuesday, has bounced to an 11-point lead over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada’s closely-watched U.S. Senate race.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Nevada, taken Wednesday night, shows Angle earning 50% support while Reid picks up 39% of the vote. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.
A month ago, Angle led Reid 48% to 40% but ran poorest against the incumbent of the three GOP primary hopefuls as she has for months.
Reid will try to portray Angle, a Christian conservative who drew heavily on Tea Party support for her win, as unacceptable to the state. Still, the race for now continues to be about the incumbent, who earned 61% of the vote when he was reelected in 2004 but whose support in this election cycle against any Republican candidate has never risen above the low 40s.
In order for Reid’s strategy to work, he has to make the election about Angle. That’s not likely to happen this year. Incumbents are usually thought to be in serious trouble when their numbers drop below 50%, but Reid has had trouble keeping his above 40% all year long. Nevadans might not fall in love with Reid’s opponent, but they’re clearly tired of him. Reid has already spent over $7 million this year, and it has resulted in him losing ground in polling support. While Angle certainly gets a boost from her primary win, the problem for Reid is that his numbers haven’t moved at all regardless.
Casting Angle as a loon hasn’t yet paid any dividends. Angle takes a 10-point lead among independents, 46/36, despite having been in a leading position for a relatively short period of time. Angle’s favorables are slightly positive at 48/45, but Reid’s are upside down at 46/54. Angle wins all but one age demo (50-64), and creams Reid among 40-49YOs, 74/21. She wins every income demo except the lowest and highest brackets, all by majorities, and only gets edged in the latter 45/46. Interestingly, she scores best among the working-class income demos of $20-40K (73/22) and $40-60K (61/31).
The issues don’t hold out much hope for a Reid recovery, either. Nevadans strongly favor repealing the ObamaCare bill that Reid ended up writing and pushing into law, 58/41. Among independents, that’s even more pronounced at 61/37, with 49% strongly favoring repeal. That would indicate that Reid has attracted all of the independents he’s likely to get, and that Angle can scoop up the rest by focusing on Reid’s role in ObamaCare. Also, almost two-thirds of Nevadans support Arizona’s immigration-enforcement law (64/25), a key indicator of voter comfort with Tea Party sentiment and direction.
Reid’s biggest problem isn’t Angle — it’s Harry Reid. Angle proved herself to be adept enough to knock off an establishment candidate in the primary, which means that she’s not going to necessarily be prone to a gaffe big enough to turn the race into a referendum on herself. As long as Reid stays in the 39-40% range in support among registered or likely voters, he’s going to be toast.