Sharron Angle Narrowly Trails Harry Reid in Latest Poll

Guy Benson

9/13/2010 9:42:00 AM - Guy Benson
It's Reid 46, Angle 44, according to Mason Dixon's latest survey of Nevada voters--a statistical dead heat.  The good news for Angle: Reid's unpopularity outpaces hers by 11 points, and hovers above the 50 percent mark--a very precarious position for any incumbent.
With neither candidate beloved by Nevadans, victory probably goes to the campaign that persuades more voters their opponent is even worse. The poll found that 52% view Reid unfavorably, compared with 41% with a favorable opinion.  Those normally would be ominous numbers for a four-term incumbent who’s held various state and federal offices since the 1960s. But tea party favorite Angle, a former state legislator who won the Republican primary by harnessing antigovernment anger, brings misgivings of her own. While a smaller percentage, 41% views her unfavorably, she also has a lower favorable rating, 35%.
The always sharp Larry Sabato offers an important bottom line for the Angle camp.

“Voters want to send a message by voting against the incumbent, and so they’re looking at Sharron Angle and asking, ‘Can I live with her? Is she the appropriate person for my message?’” he told the newspaper. “And that’s where she’s still having trouble. And that’s why this race is so close.”

The candidates will have a chance to show Nevadans how likeable or dislikeable they really are at a televised debate Oct. 14.

The Angle campaign should have that date circled on its calendar.  It's one month from tomorrow.  Attacking Reid in ads, no matter how effective, can only go so far.  I suspect many Nevadans will tune in to the October 14 debate not to evaluate Harry Reid, whom they already know and detest, but to take measure of Angle.  The debate could prove to be a crucial fulcrum point: If Angle can present herself as a viable alternative to Reid and a plausible US Senator, she may very well surge ahead for good.  If she falters or badly missteps, Reid could survive.