An email from inside the hotly contested GOP primary race:
Things have tightened with less than two weeks go in the race to face Harry Reid. The Sue Lowden campaign entered May with a double-digit advantage over both Danny Tarkanian and Sharron Angle. That polling lead was fueled by a good ground game but a clear fundraising advantage that allowed Lowden to run un-opposed on TV and radio for weeks.[# More #]
Almost four weeks – and several hundred thousand dollars of negative ads from Harry Reid and her primary opponents – later … Lowden is still in the lead but probably by a small margin. Reid and Tarkanian’s attack ads against Lowden coincided with the Tea Party Express endorsement of Angle and their massive TV buy in support of her. Lowden’s numbers went down in the face of very large negative buys against her at the same time Angle was getting a bump from the positive TPE media buy for her. So we are left with a very different race than we had just a few short weeks ago.
What is interesting though is that Angle may have peeked too soon. Pre-TPE media buy only about 50% of GOP primary voters had ever even heard of Sharron Angle. Angle has been on the ballot seven times but never statewide. In Clark County (Las Vegas) she was even worse off – only about 30% name ID. She was a blank slate that the Tea Party brand became attached to but she is now on clearly on the radar of primary voters and the media.
Now that she has moved into a competitive position she has gotten a lot more scrutiny. Angle’s momentum has come to a virtual stop in the last week with the press coming up with the Sharron “Scientology massages for prisoners” Angle stories and the statements Angle has made about outlawing alcohol and the “jobs Americans don’t do” comments Angle has made. She probably peaked about a week ago but her peek has put her within striking distance of Lowden.
I haven’t said much about Tarkanian because there isn’t much to say. He really has faded in the stretch. That isn’t a surprise though; he never seemed to ever get much traction. His polling numbers for months have never moved beyond the roughly 25% he was at when he announced. We saw Tarkanian fade in the stretch in his last two unsuccessful elections he ran too. I would guess that his numbers have dropped a bit with Angle’s rise.
Several news reports say that early voting numbers are low but I think they were just looking at the initial weekend vote numbers not the full weeks trends. A story in yesterday’s Nevada Appeal has the Carson, Washoe and Clark county election officials saying they are seeing a strong turn out. Article here: http://www.nevadaappeal.com/article/20100526/NEWS/100529721/1070&ParentProfile=1058
Washoe county is Reno (Sharron Angle’s base) and Clark is Las Vegas (Lowden’s base). Clark will represent about 60% of the vote. They each need a strong turn out from their geographic base. If turn out is strong, Lowden gets the advantage though because Clark represents 60% of the vote. From what we saw in 2006, there seems to be good GOP turn out but weak Democrat turn out across the state -not much of a surprise.
This is coming down to who can turn out their voters. Lowden is the only candidate of the three that we have seen doing a real, organized direct voter contact program (door knocks, calls, etc.) that can be turned into a GOTV effort in these final weeks. Because of that, I still expect Lowden to pull it out in a close one but still needs people to see more people writing pieces like what NRO had today. Article here: http://article.nationalreview.com/435010/the-anti-beer-libertarian/jim-geraghty