Why Harry Reid can't seem to put Sharron Angle in the rearview mirror

Senate majority leader Harry Reid is virtually tied with ‘tea party’ iconoclast Sharron Angle in their Senate race, according to a new poll. That’s bad news for Reid.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 4. Election day is creeping closer, yet the majority leader remains tied with GOP challenger Sharron Angle in their Senate race.
Isaac Brekken/AP/File
In this June 8 file photo, Sharron Angle shakes hands of supporters after winning the Nevada Republican US Senate primary election race in Las Vegas.

Sen. Harry Reid is still in trouble. Election day is creeping closer, yet the majority leader remains tied with GOP challenger Sharron Angle in polls. Plus, there’s increasing evidence that Nevada voters aren’t wild about Senator Reid’s main marketing point – the value of his influence in Washington.

The bottom line: Nevadans clearly aren’t happy with their senior senator. The biggest remaining question is whether they will be comfortable enough with Ms. Angle, a "tea party" favorite, to hand her Reid’s seat in November.

The latest non-good news for Reid came with today’s release of a Mason-Dixon Polling survey that shows he has a statistically insignificant lead of 46 to 44 percent over Angle. That’s a tie because the difference between the two is within the poll’s sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percent.

Two weeks ago a similar Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid at 43 percent and Angle at 42 percent. That means in recent days the number of undecided voters has shrunk (both candidate’s numbers jumped slightly) but those voters are not breaking for Reid. Any political pro would tell you that’s bad news for an incumbent.

Another warning sign is Reid’s unfavorable rating. A slight majority of those surveyed in the new poll – 51 percent – said they had unfavorable feelings toward the man who helped push President Obama’s health-care plan through the Senate.

Similarly, 51 percent of respondents said they felt Reid’s seniority in the Senate was not too important to give up. That’s bad for Reid, too, considering that he has been running ads in Nevada that feature the catch phrase, “No one can do more."

If there is any good news for Reid in the new numbers, it is that his opponent is not much more popular than he is. Forty-five percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Angle, a former member of the state Assembly who has a history of occasionally making statements that go beyond the bounds of Republican orthodoxy.

On Thursday, for instance, Angle told a broadcast interviewer in Nevada that the US should rethink its ties to the United Nations.

She told a KLAS television reporter that the UN is not mentioned as a priority in the Constitution, and that it “resides on our soil and costs us money."

Going forward, Reid’s ability to hold on to his job may depend on how much he can make the November vote a referendum about Angle, as well as himself. So expect more negative ads from the Reid camp.

In that vein, Reid recently released a 30-second spot that features a statement made by Angle in another broadcast interview to the effect that if Congress keeps going the way it is “people are really looking towards those Second Amendment remedies."

The Second Amendment is the one that guarantees firearm rights, so the spot highlights Angle’s implicit reference to armed resistance.

Angle’s words are "crazy" says the spot’s narrator, Bill Ames, who identifies himself as the president of the Peace Officers’ Research Association of Nevada and a Republican who himself supports the right to bear arms.

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