Buoyed by endorsement from top conservatives, Sharron Angle has jumped into the lead among Republicans vying in Tuesday’s primary for the right to face off against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this fall, according to a poll released Thursday.
Endorsed by the Tea Party Express and the Club for Growth among others, Mrs. Angle, a former state assemblywoman with a conservative voting record, now leads former Nevada Republican Party Chairman Sue Lowden, according to David Paleologos, who conducted the poll for the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
The possible dethronement of a Democrat whom some political observers regard as the second-most powerful politician the country has drawn attention to a GOP nomination contest that, in the latest poll of 400 likely GOP voters, has the top three contestants in what amounts to a statistical tie, Mr. Paleologos told The Washington Times.
It was understandable that the political world from Las Vegas to New York City was abuzz on Wednesday with rumors that Mrs. Angle had leaped ahead of Mrs. Lowden — long before the Suffolk poll’s release.
Despite giving Mrs. Angle the edge for the nomination, Nevada Republicans think Mrs. Lowden has the best chance of defeating Mr. Reid – a view also held by the GOP establishment in the state.
Mrs. Angle successfully blocked the governor’s proposed $800 million tax increase beginning in 2003 and eventually took the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — and won.
The new poll shows Mrs. Angle at 33 percent, followed by Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian at 26 percent and former Mrs. Lowden, a former Nevada state senator, with 25 percent. Several other GOP primary candidates came in at 4 percent or less.
Although used to prevailing in close general elections, Mr. Reid has a tougher-than-usual-road to hoe this year, placing under 45 percent in hypothetical match-ups against any Republican challenger in polls so far this year.
But Mr. Reid, with $9 million cash on hand according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, has more than 30 times as much to spend on the election than either Mrs. Angle or Mrs. Lowden.
Mrs. Angle held a slight lead in “voter intensity,” an important predictor of voters behavior.
“Angle has a slightly higher voter intensity than the others do,” Mr. Paleologos said, noting that 53 percent of respondents said they would definitely vote for her, with 33 percent saying probably and 12 percent saying they might change their mind.
As for Mr. Tarkanian, 51 percent said they would definitely vote for him, 36 percent said they probably would and 13 percent indicated they might change their minds.
Mrs. Lowden had 52 saying she would definitely be their choice, while 30 percent said probably but 17 percent -– the highest among the top three candidates — said they might change.
Mrs. Angle’s campaign website boasts endorsements of her by the Tea Party Express, conservative commentator Mark Levin, The Club for Growth, the Concerned Women for America Political Action Committee, Gun Owners of America and “more than 25 others” as well as a “grade A rating from the National Rifle Association Victory Fund.”
A recent Las Vega Review-Journal poll had Mrs. Lowden leading with 30 percent, followed by Mrs. Angle at 25 percent and businessman Danny Tarkanian at 200 percent. An even earlier Review-Journal poll put Mrs. Angle at only five percent of the GOP primary vote with Mrs. Lowden at 45 percent.
“The three major contenders may need the help from the supporters of the other 10 candidates,” Mr. Paleologos said.
When supporters of the other candidates were asked which of the top three hopefuls they would support if they knew their first choice couldn’t win, Mrs. Lowden led at 33 percent, followed by Mr. Tarkanian at 25 percent and Mrs. Angle at 14 percent.
But when GOP voters were asked which candidate has a better chance of defeating Mr. Reid, Miss Lowden led at 33 percent led again, but this time with Mrs. Angle second at 27 percent and Mr. Tarkanian at 23 percent.
“The swirling political winds of Tarkanian’s personal popularity and Lowden’s general election viability against the headwinds of Angle’s momentum make this a legitimate three-horse race,” Mr. Paleologos said.
Mr. Paleologos’ poll found that Nevada Republicans “overwhelmingly support the recent Arizona Law cracking down on illegal immigrants as 89 percent said they supported the law with only 5 percent opposed to it. When asked if a similar law should be passed in Nevada, 85 percent said yes and just 9 percent opposed it.”