One story about the Nevada Senate race between Republican Sharron Angle and Democrat Harry Reid that made a big stir was the disclosure of a tape
in which Angle asked Scott Ashjian
, who is running as the Tea Party of Nevada nominee, to drop out of the race and promised him access to top Republicans in return.
Angle, who herself rode Tea Party movement fervor to an upset victory in the GOP primary, was concerned that votes for Ashjian could tip the balance of the race to Reid. The pollsters at Suffolk University say that is clearly a possibility given the closeness of the race reflected in nearly every poll.
In Suffolk's survey
, conducted Oct. 11-13, Reid is leading Angle 46 percent to 43 percent with Ashjian getting 2 percent.
"Harry Reid is hanging on by a thread," said Suffolk's David Paleologos. "Both the Republican and Tea Party nominees are listed side by side on the Nevada ballot and, ironically, the difference in the race could be the handful of points secured by the Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, at the expense of Republican Sharron Angle."
The head of the Tea Party of Nevada last week endorsed Angle, saying that Ashjian had violated his trust
by secretly taping the meeting with Angle.
Ashjian, owner of a small asphalt company, had not previously been an active member of the Tea Party movement and his appearance on the scene spurred theories that his campaign was a ploy to split the Republican vote and help Reid.
One national group, the Tea Party Express, has run an ad calling Ashjian a fraud, saying "none of us ever heard of you or even seen you at a Tea Party rally," and telling him to "get lost."
The Suffolk poll asked voters if they believed Ashjian's purpose was in fact to split the vote and help Reid, or really was a true Tea Party candidate. The result: inconclusive. Forty-six percent were undecided, 28 percent said Ashjian was out to split the vote and 26 percent believed he was what he presented himself to be.
However, when asked who better represented the Tea Party message, 45 percent chose Angle compared to 13 percent for Ashjian, with 42 percent undecided.
Reid and Angle hold their only debate
of the campaign Thursday night.
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