Former Nevada state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has surged to the front of the pack in a close race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, according to a poll released today by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. The Suffolk University poll is the first to show Angle leading the large field of opponents in the June 8 Primary.

"The 'Tea Party Express' endorsement of Angle has energized her effort to rise from relative political obscurity to flat-out front-runner," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

Among the 13 candidates vying to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, Angle (33 percent) led Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian (26 percent), former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican state party and former Nevada state Sen. Sue Lowden (25 percent), businessman John Chachas (4 percent), assemblyman Chad Christensen (4 percent), Dr. Garn Mabey (1 percent) and U.S. Marine Bill Parson (1 percent), with 7 percent still undecided.

“The Nevada GOP is drawing a right angle in the quest for Capitol Hill,” said Paleologos. “Although Danny Tarkanian is more personally popular and Sue Lowden is seen as the more viable candidate against Harry Reid, voters are lining up behind Angle in great numbers, especially in the Washoe County area."

Popularity

Although he trails Angle, Tarkanian (65 percent favorable - 17 percent unfavorable) was the most popular candidate, compared to Angle (55 percent favorable - 25 percent unfavorable) and Lowden (52 percent favorable - 32 percent unfavorable).

The horserace among the three major candidates would shift if the other 10 were not in contention. When other candidates' supporters were asked which of the three leading candidates they would support if it were apparent their first choice couldn't win, Lowden (33 percent) led, followed by Tarkanian (25 percent) and Angle (14 percent). And when Republican voters were asked which candidate has a better chance of defeating Harry Reid, Lowden (33 percent) again led Angle (27 percent) and Tarkanian (23 percent).

Republican contests in Nevada include nearly a dozen local races for contested state senate and assembly seats, which will affect turnout and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Gubernatorial race

In the Republican Primary for governor, former U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval (47 percent) led Governor Jim Gibbons (25 percent), former North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon (10 percent), Stan Lusak (1 percent) and real estate investor Tony Atwood (1 percent), with 16 percent undecided.

For lieutenant governor, incumbent Brian Krolicki (63 percent) had a comfortable lead over Barbara Lee Woollen (14 percent), the former co-owner of Cinelease, with 22 percent undecided.

Offshore drilling & immigration

As international oil giant BP continues to struggle in its efforts to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher and contain the economic and environmental damage, most Nevada Republicans oppose a moratorium on offshore drilling. Thirty-two percent of likely Republican voters would support a moratorium on all U.S. offshore drilling until appropriate safety measures have been designed and tested, while 62 percent oppose a moratorium on offshore drilling.

Nevada Republicans overwhelmingly support the recent Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants: 89 percent said they supported the law, and 5 percent opposed it. When asked if a similar law should be passed in Nevada, 85 percent said yes, and 9 percent no.

Demographics

Suffolk University conducted the Republican Primary poll using live telephone interviews on Tuesday June 1, through Wednesday, June 2, 2010. The margin of error on the statewide survey of 400 is +/- 4.90 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents were likely Republican voters in the Nevada Primary to be held Tuesday, June 8. Frequencies/marginals and 140 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted today on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.