Nearly six in 10 Nevada voters say the nationwide Tea Party movement wasn’t a factor in their vote in the 2010 Senate race, an Associated Press analysis of preliminary exit poll results shows.
The exit and telephone poll of early and absentee voters showed nearly four in 10 voters say they support the conservative movement. That is slightly more than the number of voters who say they oppose the movement.
Preliminary survey results show nearly one in four voters say they have neutral feelings about the Tea Party.
As expected, Tea Party backers overwhelmingly picked Republican challenger Sharron Angle for U.S. Senate over incumbent Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid was picked as strongly by those opposed to the movement.
More than seven in 10 voters surveyed said they were either dissatisfied or angry over the way the federal government works.
Fewer than four in 10 voters said they strongly favored the Senate candidate they voted for; about as many said they disliked the other candidates. Nearly one-quarter said they liked their candidate, but with reservations.
Chris Mendez, an 18-year-old high school senior from Las Vegas who voted early, said he would have campaigned for a different Republican but could not bring himself to vote for Angle, whom he believed would be “useless” in the U.S. Senate.
“I just had to swallow my pride and vote for Harry,” he said.
Robert Woolley, a 49-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, said he voted for Angle, but said describing himself as a supporter would be “a bit dicey.”
“I certainly don’t agree with Angle on everything; I disagree with her on a fairly substantial number of things,” he said. “But no candidate is going to agree with 100 percent of your views.”
Woolley, who said he is a libertarian, said his top issue was curbing federal spending, making his choice “crystal clear.”
The top issue for voters this election was the economy, with two-thirds of voters naming it as more important than the war in Afghanistan, health care and illegal immigration.
Those who picked the economy were split about evenly in their support of Angle and Reid. Nearly six in 10 voters who said illegal immigration was the top issue backed Angle, while more than two-thirds who identified health care backed Reid.
Nearly nine in 10 said they’re worried about the direction the economy will take in the next year, not a surprise in a state that tops the country in unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates.
More than four in 10 voters said their views of President Barack Obama were not a factor in their vote. But a higher percentage of voters said they disapproved rather than approved of his handling of the presidency.
The survey of 3,813 Nevada voters was conducted for AP by Edison Research. A total of 3,013 were interviewed in a random sample of 45 precincts statewide Tuesday; approximately 800 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by land or cellular telephone from Oct. 22 through Oct. 31. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.