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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Basic Instincts

A new poll from Suffolk of the Nevada Republican Senate primary bears the topline finding that onetime frontrunner Sue “Chickens for Checkups” Lowden has now slipped into third place behind Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle and the more conventional conservative Danny Tarkanian. Since Lowden has continuously performed very well in general election tests against Harry Reid, her falling fortunes in the primary are good news for the embattled incumbent.
But below the toplines, the Suffolk provides an interesting glimpse into the psyches of Nevada Republicans. And two findings are of particular interest. First, there’s this eyebrow-raiser:

The next question concerns the oil leak which has continued to flow into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 7 weeks. Would you support a moratorium on all U.S. offshore drilling until appropriate safety measures have been designed and tested?

The question is worded in a way that makes a “yes” answer really easy; it mentions the leak and its duration; calls for a “moratorium” on drilling, not a ban; and keys the moratorium to “approrpriate safety measures,” not some sort of ironclad conditions. Yet 62% of Nevada Republicans answered that question with a “no.” This is a constituency that should warm the hearts of BP execs.
Second, the poll predictably asks about the Arizona immigration law, a subject on which Republican politicians, in Nevada and elsewhere, have expressed different points of view. Not the Nevada rank-and-file “base”: they support it by a 89-5 margin, and favor the enactment of a similar law in their own state by a 85-9 margin. You may not be surprised to learn that only 4% of these self-identified Republicans are Latino. In the 2008 general election, 15% of Nevada voters were Latino.
It’s hardly news that the self-conscious conservative “base” is dominant in the GOP these days. But even on sensitive topics where a bit of discretion or flexibility might be a good idea, rank-and-file fidelity to conservative ideology is a sight to behold.
UPDATE: R2K/DKos just released another NV poll, and the numbers for the Republican Senate primary are very close to Suffolk’s. But the new poll shows Harry Reid ahead of all three major Republican candidates, though with numbers in the low 40s.

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