Poll: ‘Chicken For Checkups’ Could Hurt Lowden — But Hasn’t Yet

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April 29, 2010 12:52 p.m.
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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Nevada Senate race includes a question on Republican candidate Sue Lowden’s comments praising the use of the barter system in order to lower health care costs. The poll shows that the “Chickens For Checkups” story has the potential to badly damage Lowden — but for now, at least, she is still leading Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by a narrow margin, and she is also ahead in her GOP primary.

The question reads: “As you may know, Sue Lowden has proposed reducing medical costs by having patients barter with their doctor instead of using health insurance. Under Lowden’s barter proposal, patients would negotiate directly with doctors, offering services or goods such as painting the doctor’s home or giving the doctor a chicken, in exchange for medical treatment. QUESTION: Do you think Lowden’s proposal is a realistic way to bring medical costs down for most families?”

The result: Yes 14%, no 81%. Among Republicans only, the result is 27%-68%. It should be noted that this seemingly absurd question is in fact a fairly accurate and straightforward summary of Lowden’s comments from last week.It should be noted that the Chickens For Checkups question, which has the obvious potential to poison the well for Lowden in any later questions from the poll, was only asked after the horse-race questions.

In the Republican primary, Lowden leads among likely primary voters with 38% followed by former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian wit 28%, and former state Rep. Sharron Angle with 13%. The margin of error is ±5%.

In the general election, Lowden leads Reid by 45%-41%, followed by Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian with 4%. Tarkanian leads Reid by 43%-41%, with Ashjian at 6%, and Angle leads Reid by 44%-41%, with Ashjian at 5%. The margin of error among likely general election voters is ±4%. In the previous poll from January, which did not include Angle or Ashjian, Lowden led Reid by 51%-42%, and Tarkanian led Reid by 52%-41%.

In a separate poll from Rasmussen, which did not include Ashjian, Lowden leads Reid by 52%-39%, Tarkanian leads Reid by 51%-41%, and Angle leads Reid by 48%-40%. The sample of likely voters has a margin of error of ±4.5%. The TPM Poll Average for this race has Lowden ahead of Reid by 52.6%-38.3%, Tarkanian ahead by 50.6%-39.9%, and Angle ahead by 49.6%-39.9%.

It would appear that Lowden has not been damaged at this time by the whole ChickenCare controversy. But if her opponents use it against her — either her competitors in the GOP primary, or Reid in the general election — it could go places.

Late Update: As Greg Sargent points out, Tarkanian is already going after Lowden by circulating an e-mail with a link to a YouTube video, showing a local news segment about Chickens For Checkups. The Tarkanian campaign says: “Watch this video and ask yourself if Sue Lowden is prepared to run against Harry Reid.”

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