Reid and Angle locked in partisan Senate race |

Reid and Angle locked in partisan Senate race

Cristina Silva
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Sharron Angle remain in a virtual deadlock in a static Senate race where neither candidate has strayed far from their respective political base.

Reid and Angle have both focused their efforts on destroying the other’s credibility. She claims he dragged down Nevada’s economy. He calls her too extreme.

But the candidates need to convince undecided voters who don’t agree with their every idea that they will represent their interests if they want to push ahead, said political scientists.

“I don’t think Sharron has removed her conservative cap,” said Rep. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican in a quiet race against Democrat Nancy Price. “I don’t think he has removed his Democratic cap, so at this point this is a real war of philosophies.”

Reid, the Senate majority leader, has a statistically insignificant lead, with 46 percent of the vote, according to a recent poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow in Las Vegas. Angle drew 44 percent support.

That’s nearly unchanged from a poll in August, when the candidates were at 45-44.

The telephone poll of 625 registered voters was conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. It had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Overall, 6 percent of registered voters remain undecided. Another 3 percent picked “none of these candidates.”

The high-profile race pits an architect of the Senate’s Democratic agenda against a tea party favorite who is one of the most conservative candidates in the GOP’s November lineup.

For nonpartisan voters, neither candidate represents a measured choice.

Reid is a moderate Democrat who supports gun rights. But he also pushed President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, helped expand the national deficit to pay for economic stimulus projects and wants to eliminate some tax cuts for the nation’s highest earners. He also favors immigration reform that would help the country’s more than 11 million illegal immigrants pursue legal protections.

Angle proposes limiting the federal government’s reach by eliminating the departments of energy, environmental protection and education. She has said entitlement programs such as unemployment benefits make “government our God” and wants to keep the Bush cuts. She supports making illegal immigration a criminal offense.

During general elections, candidates tend to play down their partisan views to appeal to moderate voters.

Reid and Angle have instead spent recent weeks energizing their party followers.

He has met with gay Democrats and clean energy advocates.

Angle has rallied for votes at tea party gatherings.

Such targeted campaigning might not be the best strategy, said Robert Erikson, a political science professor at Columbia University in New York. Candidates need to energize their most likely supporters to win office, Erikson said, but they must also persuade other voters.

“As a campaign plays out, extreme right-wingers rarely win,” he said of Angle.

Reid, meanwhile, is viewed as a, “progressive, liberal spokesman,” Erikson said.

Nevada’s voter registration appears to give Reid an edge. Registered Democrats make up roughly 43 percent of Nevada’s voting population; Republicans 35 percent.

The poll showed Reid has had the most success rallying his party’s faithful. Roughly 88 percent of Reid’s supporters were Democrats, while only 83 percent of Angle’s voters said they were Republican.

Still, Angle has made the most progress with the state’s independent voters, according to the poll results. Among those voters, she leads Reid 42-33, with 11 percent undecided. Roughly 10 percent of those voters choose “none of these candidates.”

Kelly Steele, a Reid spokesman, said the campaign’s focus on Angle has highlighted the differences between the candidates.

“There isn’t a Nevadan who wants to send someone to Washington who is going to embarrass them,” Steele said. “Elections are about choices. We don’t make these decisions in a vacuum.”

Jerry Stacy, an Angle spokesman, said in a statement that Reid’s attacks are not sticking with voters.

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