I knew the Review-Journal’s poll this week on the GOP primary for U.S. Senate was perfectly timed.
In our previous poll, Sen. Lowden appeared to be running away with the nomination, but neither of the other "big three" candidates had stepped up the campaign.
But over the last few weeks, Sharron Angle received a boost from the Tea Party Express endorsement and advertising.
Danny Tarkanian, meanwhile, was hammering Lowden effectively with an ad featuring actual video of Lowden saying she had supported Harry Reid in the past.
Would Lowden maintain her lead and coast through the primary? Or, would the race tighten?
It tightened. Significantly.
A few of observations seem important to make at this juncture:
1. Lowden still leads, despite taking big shots from her primary competitors and from the Reid campaign, trying to make hay over a misstep by Lowden in which she talked about days gone by when people used to barter for health care. The fact that she’s not walked back that comment gives pause to some voters.
2. The barter issue (chickens for health care) in an of itself isn’t an important issue in the primary, however. For Republican voters the question is whether Lowden has more stumbles in her. Never forget that the one thing Republicans want in a candidate is someone who can beat Sen. Reid.
3. Tarkanian, in more ways than one, appears to be the odd man out. He’s a very good candidate. He takes on the heavy lifting of attacking Lowden directly. All it gets him is Angle leapfrogging over him into second place. Go figure.
4. Angle benefitted greatly from the Tea Party Express anointment. No one ever doubted her conservative resume, however. She needs to convince voters that she won’t be too easily marginalized come November by the monied Reid campaign. She’s the candidate voters know the least about, which is both an potential opportunity and a potential liability. See observation No. 2.
5. Finally, we’ve never seen a Republican primary as wildly competitive as this one. All three are formidable candidates. All three could win the nomination. All three lead Sen. Reid in head-to-head match-ups today.
As important as this poll was, it’s the next Review-Journal poll that may tell the tale.
If Lowden can buck up her numbers — or even hold her current lead — then that may well be the key point on the graph going into the final poll — the actual election.
If Angle can continue the surge, then fasten your seatbelts. This race could quite literally come down a handful of votes. And if that happens, my advice to candidates is to make sure every gimme vote — family, friends, church members, team mates, etc. — get to the polls early (and as Democrats say) often.
This primary’s going to be something.