Fueled by a burst of support from the Tea Party, Sharron Angle has rocketed into a near dead heat with Sue Lowden in the white-hot U.S. Senate Republican primary, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Lowden, who had been the Republican front-runner since February, lost support to Angle, the former Reno assemblywoman seen by likely Republican voters as the most conservative candidate in a contest in which three-quarters of Republican voters say they're somewhat or very conservative, the poll showed.
According to the Mason-Dixon poll, if the Republican primary were held today: Lowden would win 30 percent of the vote; Angle 25 percent; Tarkanian 22 percent; John Chachas 3 percent; and Chad Christensen 2 percent.
One month ago, the same pollster found Lowden had 45% support and Angle had just 5%. So what's behind Angle's surge? The LVRJ reports that it's teabaggers, including none other than Joe the Plumber:
The Tea Party Express, the national group that held an anti-Reid protest in the senator's hometown of Searchlight in late March, shook up the race April 15 when it endorsed Angle at a Tax Day news conference in Washington, D.C. The group's political action committee has been raising money for Angle with a goal of $500,000. It already has spent $200,000 for her, including on radio and TV ads.
Meantime, Angle has been stacking up endorsements from more than two dozen conservative groups and people, from Gun Owners of America to "Joe the Plumber."
Angle, who has close ties with local teabaggers, is the most conservative candidate running for the GOP nomination, making her a perfect fit for Nevada's Republican electorate, which, as this poll shows, is quite conservative. According to the poll, 77% said they were very (43%) or somewhat (34%) conservative and 58% said they were tea party supporters. 85% of Republicans said they supported passing an anti-immigrant law like Arizona's racial profiling measure.
Lowden's "Chickens for Checkups" comments don't seem to have hurt her amoing Republicans. 70% of GOP primary voters said her comments wouldn't impact their vote, with 15% saying it made them less likely to support her and 12% saying it made them more likely to support her.