Despite media and pundit talk about possible general backlash to Tea Party movement candidates, there is little sign of that in Nevada — where a new poll shows has two tidbits of bad news for Majority Leader Harry Reid in his battle to fend off a challenge from Republican Sharon Angle, a Tea Party movement candidate who won’t talk to reporters most of the time and who is mostly “interviewed” by the GOP’s unofficial public relations person, Sean Hannity:
PROBLEM ONE: The new poll shows Reid and Angle neck and neck.
PROBLEM TWO: The poll shows independent voters breaking Angle’s way. This comes within the context of a new poll showing Republicans opening up a 13 point advantage among independent voters.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle tied with 43 percent of the vote in a new poll that suggests most Nevadans won’t gamble on half a dozen other little known contenders.
The survey — the first to test the strength of all the contenders — showed the field drawing negligible support away from Tea Party darling Angle or from Reid, even with another self-described “Tea Party” candidate in the general election race.
The poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow also found nonpartisan voters breaking Angle’s way, giving her a 20-point lead over Reid among these Nevadans who are likely to determine the outcome of the high stakes race.
“The independents have shifted to her by the biggest margin since the primary,” said Brad Coker of Mason Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey. “If she goes on to win this, maybe this is the first sign that at the end of the day Angle might nose it out.”
For now, however, the race remains a dead heat with Reid and Angle at 43 percent support each in the latest Mason-Dixon poll taken Monday through Wednesday. In its previous poll two weeks ago, Reid edged by Angle 46-44, but without naming all other candidates and with 6 percent undecided.
This poll is particularly significant — when placed in the larger context. It shows how grim the situation is shaping up for the Dems.
For instance note:
It shows President Obama and the Democratic Party on the negative side, with a -38 VCI average for the month of September. That’s eight points worse than where President Clinton and the Democrats stood in 1994 (when Democrats lost House 54 seats). It’s 17 points better than where George W. Bush and Republicans stood in 2006 (when Republicans lost 30 seats). It’s three points worse than where Ronald Reagan and the GOP were in 1982 (when Republicans lost 26 House seats and when unemployment was at 10%, like it nearly is today). What’s more, today’s VCI is starkly different from when Obama’s presidency began. In May of 2009, the VCI was +41. The index’s steady drop tracks with the controversial debate over health care, the Gulf oil spill, and general uncertainty about the economy. We will continue to track the VCI from now until the election, and this one number will allow you to see movement faster than trying to track all three questions on any given day. We’ve been kicking the tires on this for months looking for a loophole, but haven’t found it yet. Nothing is perfect in projecting an actual House seat gain or loss, but this will put you on sounder footing when coming up with your ranges..
Go to the link to read a complete explanation of the methodology…and more.
“I feel good,” President Obama’s mustachioed political maven—“Axe” to his pals—told me Thursday night in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I was saying to my wife the other day that I feel good. She was, like, shocked. She said, ‘Of course you do! It’s campaign season! You’re always energized.’ ”
In a wide-ranging conversation, the 55-year-old senior White House adviser—a longtime Chicago friend of the six-years-younger 44th president—was far jauntier than his sometimes lugubrious presence on cable television and the Sunday Washington panel shows.
Message: It’s not as bad as you think.
And that’s not just because Axelrod doesn’t want to anger Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did recently when he publicly suggested that the Democrats could lose the House.
“I love Nancy Pelosi,” Axelrod told me. “But I’ve gotten on her nerves from time to time. She’d be the first to say so.”
Yet he claimed to be much more optimistic than the conventional wisdom about a Democratic rout, predicting instead “an idiosyncratic election” in which the Dems will pick up Republican seats while losing Democratic ones—leaving the fate of a 39-seat turnover (required for the GOP to take control) very much up in the air.
“I’m not suggesting that we don’t have a challenging election,” Axelrod told me. “I told the president two years ago, when we sat in Chicago during the transition and we heard a full briefing about what was about to happen with the economy, that two years from now our numbers aren’t going to be what they are today, and all those guys who are being heralded as geniuses are going to be decried as idiots.”
Of course, Pelosi recently said she felt the Democrats had the momentum.
Perhaps its akin to the kind of momentum Reid is showing in Nevada, Andrew Cuomo is now showing in his battle to become Governor in New York state, or the kind of momentum LBJ often proclaimed that U.S. military forces had during the Vietnam War.
A Pew Research poll focusing on independent voters released Thursday afternoon has dire news for the Democratic Party: Republicans have a 13 percentage-point advantage among independents likely to vote in the 2010 midterms.
Pew President Andrew Kohut told the NewsHour that independents are rejecting the party in power — again.
“Independents appear willing to vote against the party in power for the third consecutive election. The Republican Party is ahead and a significant part of that is that they have independent support,” Kohut said, adding, “What’s driving them in the Republicans’ direction is discontent with the economy and Obama’s performance with respect to it. We also see independents have become more conservative over the past two years and more concerned with the size of the government.”
The poll also highlights the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters. While the contest for control of Congress favors Democrats among all registered voters, among all likely voters Republicans have a 7-point edge.
To put this in focus look at this:
So the political terrain for Harry Reid is looking rocky in Nevada — and even rockier nationwide.
–Reid and Angle supporters clashed in a brawl at a forum.
—A poll shows the public hates the Republicans more than the Democrats. That underscores how (a)the vote will be against those in power who had done what the public perceives to be a lousy job on fixing the country’s problems the way they expected (b)a big Republican victory in Congress could be a double edged sword that will cut the GOP since there is no huge public reservoir of good if they do win. In fact, you could consider several scenarios in which gridlock, or over-the-top power plays or rhetoric sparks a backlash that would help Barack Obama and the Dems to sail to victory in 2012 (or help Michael Bloomberg if he runs as an independent candidate)
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.