Uh oh: Mason-Dixon poll puts Reid up by 7

The good news: Harry Reid still can’t get above the low 40s in the new Las Vegas Review-Journal polling in Nevada’s Senate race.  The bad news: Sharron Angle just fell out of the 40s altogether.  Reid now leads Angle, 44/37, in a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon among likely voters:

The Mason-Dixon poll showed that if the general election were held now, Reid would win 44 percent to 37 percent for Angle. Ten percent were undecided, 5 percent would choose “none of these candidates,” and the remaining 4 percent would pick another candidate on the ballot.

That is the best Reid has done against Angle this year in a series of Mason-Dixon polls. Previously, the two had been locked in a statistical dead heat with Angle finishing just ahead of Reid in February, 44 percent to 42 percent, and in June, 44 percent to 41 percent, and Reid finishing just ahead of Angle in May, 42 percent to 39 percent.

The phone survey, taken Monday through Wednesday of 625 likely voters in Nevada, is the first in which Reid has finished ahead of Angle outside the margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Reid has had a pretty good month in defining Angle as extreme, and Angle hasn’t helped her own cause much during that period.  She has had to back away from statements about unemployment and to explain statements on Social Security.  When you’re explaining, you’re playing defense, and Reid put her in that position by flooding the airwaves.

However, a couple of bright spots can be found.  First, Angle had a good fundraising quarter and finally has cash in the bank.  Most importantly, even though she bled voters in almost every category, they didn’t go to Reid.  He’s still only getting 44% of the vote, far below the 50% threshold an incumbent needs to be safe in this climate.  For the moment, voters don’t have to pull the lever for Angle, and she has three months to define herself rather than allow Reid to do it for her.  If 56% of the voters don’t want Reid, that shouldn’t be a difficult sell for Angle, but she has to step up her game now and avoid any further mistakes.