Welcome to the general election, Sharron Angle

WELCOME TO THE GENERAL ELECTION, SHARRON ANGLE…. Sharron Angle, the unhinged Republican Senate nominee in Nevada, is just getting her general election efforts underway after winning her primary fight a few days ago. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) campaign welcomed her to the next phase of the race with a new ad.

It’s a pretty straightforward spot, noting that Angle has taken plenty of radical positions on key issues. The ad concludes, “First a Scientology plan to give massages to prisoners; now she wants to get rid of Medicare and Social Security. What’s next?”

The truth is, we know exactly what’s next: more ads reminding voters that Sharron Angle is something of a nut. It’s not as if Reid’s first general-election ad throws the kitchen sink at the GOP nominee — future ads can get into Angle’s desire to eliminate the Department of Education; store nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain; pull the country out of the United Nations; ban alcohol; prohibit nearly all abortions; and fight against fluoridated water.

I was especially interested in an item from Time‘s Mark Halperin, who always seems to have a pretty solid sense of what the Republican establishment is thinking. He noted yesterday that “many” leading GOP strategists are “resigned to Reid holding his seat,” now that Angle will be his opponent. Halperin added that Angle’s radicalism, and her inability to make herself appear more mainstream, is “a candidacy-killing problem.”

It’s far too early to write Angle off — Reid’s popularity in Nevada is still weak, and Angle is a tenacious campaigner — but Halperin’s impression points to an underlying danger. On the surface, Angle appears to be a bit of a lunatic. But below the surface, if Republicans en masse conclude she’s just too crazy to win, they’ll give up on this race and focus their energies elsewhere.

And if that happens, Angle’s chances of success will collapse.