Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll showed Harry Reid clinging to a two-point lead among likely voters, 45/43, which sounded better than the previous Mason-Dixon poll that showed Angle back six at 43/37. The Rasmussen poll’s series on the race didn’t really show any movement, though, which created some skepticism about whether Angle had really rebounded. However, today’s Mason-Dixon poll removes that doubt:
The numbers: Reid 43%, Angle 42%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Mason-Dixon poll from two weeks ago, though, Reid had an even stronger lead of 44%-37%, as a result of relentless attacks on Angle’s right-wing positions and her steady stream of gaffes. The TPM Poll Average gives Reid a lead of 44.3%-42.6%.
As Eric Kleefeld reports at TPM, the bleeding stopped because Angle got on the air and started responding to the massive wave of attack ads Harry Reid launched after the primaries. Angle has begun running her ads in Nevada and making her case. Reid apparently can only get so far by going negative, and that limit is around the 43-45% mark.
However, Angle does have a problem if Reid’s negative attacks continue to score. Nevada voters have a None of the Above option on the ballot, which I discovered while in Las Vegas for the Right Online conference last week. The option does not toss out an election, even if NOTA wins a majority of the votes. The candidate with the plurality will win in that case.
That could become a key problem for either candidate, depending on how angry the electorate is with Reid and how uncomfortable they get with Angle. It will force both candidates to build a positive case for their election to the Senate, which Angle can probably do better than Reid at the moment. Reid’s only argument for his re-election is a continuation with the status quo that has him mired at the 43% level in the race. But Angle has to prepare herself to play better defense while continuing to go on offense, or Reid’s attacks could bleed less-unhappy voters from the GOP to NOTA. That certainly seems to be his strategy, but as the latest poll shows, it’s not wearing well on Nevadans.