Texas sen­a­tor misses on polls on Ne­vada race

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By ciara O’Rourke

U.S. Sen. Bob Ben­nett of Utah, the Repub­li­can who lost his bid for re-elec­tion in May when he fin­ished third at his party’s nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion, warned last week that tea party “mis­chief” could cost Repub­li­cans in hotly con­tested Se­nate races this Novem­ber.

Namely, Ben­nett said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., doesn’t have to worry about Repub­li­can Shar­ron An­gle, who was nom­i­nated to chal­lenge Reid with the bless­ing of tea par­ty­ers. “My sources in Ne­vada say with Shar­ron An­gle there’s no way Harry Reid loses in Ne­vada,” he said.

Repub­li­can Sen. John Cornyn of Texas fired back, sug­gest­ing Ben­nett’s suf­fer­ing from sour grapes. “I re­al­ize we’re hot and heavy lead­ing up to the elec­tion, but vot­ers are go­ing to make the right de­ci­sion,” Cornyn was quoted say­ing in an ar­ti­cle posted July 13 by Talk­ing Points Memo, an on­line po­lit­i­cal news or­ga­ni­za­tion. “There have been 30 pub­lished polls in this elec­tion cy­cle, and Harry Reid’s been trail­ing in ev­ery sin­gle one.”

Is Reid re­ally down and out all over?

Brian Walsh, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee, which Cornyn leads, said there have been “at least” 30 polls taken in the “last 18 months of this elec­tion cy­cle,” or since Jan­uary 2009.

Walsh didn’t share the sen­a­tor’s break­down of polls, so we went surf­ing. We turned up sev­eral on­line com­pendi­ums of poll re­sults: Ras­mussen Re­ports, Real Clear Pol­i­tics and Talk­ing Points Memo, all look­ing at whom vot­ers would pick in a matchup be­tween Reid and An­gle and be­tween Reid and Sue Low­den, who was a promis­ing GOP pri­mary can­di­date. The three web­sites yielded sum­maries of 27 polls, and we scrounged up three more polls from the Talk­ing Points Memo’s Pol­lTracker.

For each poll, we checked to make sure that Reid was tested for re-elec­tion and that there was a clear-cut in­di­ca­tion of who was ahead — Reid or an op­po­nent.

All told, we found, there have been polls test­ing Reid’s chances against var­i­ous pos­si­ble chal­lengers since at least Au­gust 2009. That’s when the Ma­son-Dixon poll showed Low­den lead­ing Reid by 5 per­cent­age points, though the mar­gin of er­ror was also 5 points.

Of the 30 polls we re­viewed — in­clud­ing five Demo­cratic polls and one Repub­li­can poll — a Repub­li­can led Reid in 28 of them; Reid led in two polls, both Demo­cratic.

In May, Fair­bank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & As­so­ci­ates re­ported that Reid had a 7point lead on Low­den, an in­de­pen­dent and a tea party sup­porter. An­gle wasn’t in­cluded in the poll. Jonathan Brown, a se­nior re­searcher for the poll­ster, told us the re­sult was unique be­cause of the tim­ing: Low­den had just made some “ex­tremely ill-ad­vised com­ments” about her idea to have Amer­i­cans barter with their doc­tor for health care. Then in June, Re­search 2000, work­ing with the lib­eral-lean­ing Daily Kos, re­ported Reid had a 6-point lead on An­gle and a 4point lead on Low­den. (To note: That month, Daily Kos sev­ered ties with Re­search 2000, and has since sued the poll­ster for faulty polling.)

Among the 30 polls, we came across five show­ing a Repub­li­can can­di­date ahead, but not by enough to ex­ceed the poll’s mar­gin of er­ror, mean­ing their race would have been too close to call at that time. We found a sixth poll where Reid led when vot­ers were asked to choose be­tween Reid and Low­den, but when asked to choose be­tween An­gle and Reid, An­gle led. A sev­enth poll showed Reid lead­ing against An­gle, but be­hind Low­den. Both polls also fell within the mar­gin of er­ror.

As we were wrap­ping up this item, Talk­ing Points Memo posted a July 1 poll by the Demo­cratic Pa­triot Ma­jor­ity PAC that showed Reid with a 4-point lead over An­gle, with­out re­veal­ing the poll’s mar­gin of er­ror, and a July 14 Ma­sonDixon poll that showed Reid with a 7-point lead on An­gle. We didn’t in­clude these polls in our count be­cause they weren’t avail­able when Cornyn made his claim.

Though the lat­est polling hints that Reid’s num­bers may be pick­ing up, he clearly trailed Repub­li­can op­po­nents in two-thirds of the 30 polls we re­viewed; in those seven polls show­ing a closer race, Reid was be­hind in five.

Had Cornyn said that Reid was be­hind in nearly ev­ery poll, we wouldn’t quib­ble. But in two polls, Reid clearly was the leader — and that means he didn’t trail “in ev­ery sin­gle one.”

We rate Cornyn’s state­ment as False.

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