Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009 | 5:29 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid famously ignores polls, but he might be paying attention to this one.
Results released today show not only does Reid remain unpopular in Nevada, he would be clobbered in next fall’s election by either of two potential Republican challengers.
The poll shows Reid being beat by 11 percentage points (38 percent to 49 percent, with 13 undecided) by Republican Danny Tarkanian, a real estate professional who has run twice unsuccessfully for public office. His father was the legendary basketball coach at UNLV.
If the matchup were today, Reid also would fall to Sue Lowden (40 percent to 45 percent, with 15 undecided), the chair of the state’s struggling Republican Party who has not yet entered the race. The former state legislator and television news journalist is expected to announce in the next few weeks if she will run.
The poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, surveyed 400 Nevadans and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
Some pundits like to say the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day, and Reid has rarely had great numbers in the politically split state going into campaign season.
Even though Barack Obama won the state last fall, the president’s popularity nationally has been dipping and next fall’s congressional races will surely be influenced by the success or failure the Obama agenda.
The numbers in Nevada show the work ahead for the senator, who has long said he has a target on his back as Republicans prioritized their efforts to oust the Democratic leader.
Reid promises to raise $25 million for the campaign, and his team plans to tell Nevadans the story of the Senator from Searchlight. They have also promised an “aggressive” campaign, which is a polite way of saying research is likely underway on possible opponents.
Perhaps more interesting to Nevada voters was respondents’ choice for the Republican ticket.
Tarkanian easily bested Lowden in a Republican matchup, 33 percent to 14 percent, with 47 percent undecided, according to additional polling of Republicans that had a slightly larger margin of error.
Tarkanian has rarely been mentioned by party officials nationally or operatives in Nevada among their top choices to go after Reid. The National Republican Senatorial Committee strongly courted Republican Rep. Dean Heller to run. But Heller declined. The poll shows he would have beat Reid by 10 points (50 percent to 40 percent).
Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, a conservative who narrowly lost a primary to Heller in 2006, took 5 percent.
Reid’s approval rating remains upside down at home (37 percent of Nevadans polled viewing him favorably, 50 percent unfavorable), though not much has changed in there over the past year.