Lowden pulls ahead of Tarkanian

By JOSH KRAUSHAAR | 2/28/10 3:08 PM EST

Former Republican party chairwoman Sue Lowden is gaining momentum in the Nevada Senate race, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll, both against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and in the crowded primary for the nomination.

The poll shows Lowden holding the largest lead over Reid of any of the surveyed Republican candidates, holding a 52 to 39 percent lead. Her leading Republican rival, businessman Danny Tarkanian, holds an 11-point lead over Reid, 51 to 40 percent.

But in the primary, Lowden has expanded her lead, aided by a flurry of early advertisements introducing her to Nevada voters. She now leads Tarkanian by 18 points, 47 to 29 percent, among likely Republican primary voters, with conservative Sharron Angle lagging behind in third with eight percent. In the January Mason-Dixon survey, Lowden and Tarkanian were locked in a statistical dead heat.

Lowden has been the leading Republican fundraiser. Though banker John Chachas has made himself financially competitive by loaning himself over $1 million for the race, he only polled at one percent.

Reid’s approval ratings continue to be among the worst of any Democratic senator running for re-election this year. Only one-third of respondents hold a positive view of him, with 51 percent viewing him unfavorably.

The poll also showed Reid benefiting if a credible third-party candidate running under the Tea Party banner enters the race. Reid wins 36 percent of the vote, with a generic Republican at 32 percent, and a Tea Party candidate at 18 percent.

The “Tea Party of Nevada” filed organizational paperwork in January with the Nevada secretary of state and is looking to John Ashjian, a Las Vegas businessman and political newcomer, as its nominee.

The Mason-Dixon poll was commissioned for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and surveyed 625 registered voters from February 22-24.

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