(Stuart Rothenberg/Rothenberg Political Report) – Periodically – it seems more often these days, actually – I come across some really silly political stuff that screams out for attention. Here (is one example). Caveat emptor!
All the hype about the Nevada Tea Party getting on the ballot and the likely candidacy of businessman Jon Ashjian.
News of the Tea Party’s ballot status in Nevada spread like wildfire. PoliticalWire reported on a Public Opinion Strategies poll by asserting that Ashjian “changes” the Nevada race, with Ashjian “helping” Sen. Harry Reid (D).
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quoted highly regarded Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston as tweeting that Ashjian “could have huge impact” on the contest, and National Journal reported that Ashjian “could split conservative votes.”
CQ-Roll Call got caught up in the hype too, I must add.
First, as everyone who watched the New Jersey gubernatorial race last year should remember, Independent Chris Daggett received 5.8 percent of the vote, underperforming every survey from mid-September to Election Day.
Early polls always exaggerate the strength of third-party candidates, and there is every reason to believe that this is the case with the POS poll. (This is not a criticism of POS, which I continue to regard as one of the absolutely best survey research firms in the business.)
Second, only somebody with little background in polling would spend a lot of time at this point looking at general election ballot tests of candidates with dramatically unequal name identification.
A huge 94 percent of Nevada voters know enough about Harry Reid to have an opinion of him, while the comparable figure for the leading Republicans in the race is much lower. Sue Lowden is at 56 percent, Danny Tarkanian is at 52 percent and Sharron Angle is at 26 percent.
No matter what Ashjian draws in the hypothetical ballot tests, Reid is stuck between 37 percent and 39 percent of the vote in most polls, in the POS survey and in others. Until that changes, Ashjian will be a nonfactor in the race, and spending time on his potential is little more than wishful thinking by Democrats and media hype by reporters.