In an otherwise dismal night for Democrats, Harry Reid’s improbable win in Nevada offered a moment of good news (followed by a flood of grim resignation that he will still be the majority leader, rather than a less vulnerable, tougher figure like, say, Chuck Schumer…) How did he survive, and how did the pundits and pollsters, with the exception of one lone Las Vegas journalist, get it so wrong?
For one thing, Jon Ralston, who got grilled for his out on a limb prediction last week that Reid could pull it off, says the polling in Nevada was atrocious. The bad polling Ralston saw, combined with the fact that he really knows the state, saw the early vote trending big in Reid’s direction, and gets that the state’s Democratic Party — essentially Reid’s machine — knows what they’re doing, were the basis of Ralston’s gutsy call on his blog for the Las Vegas Sun.
The paper today fleshes out just how Reid survived, and why he is the ultimate political survivor:
“Harry Reid always seems to find a way to win,” GOP strategist Greg Ferraro said. “He never wins big and he never wins pretty, and the rumors of his demise are always greatly exaggerated. He always finds a way.”
This time around, Reid’s path to re-election began with a sustained investment in party infrastructure, continued with a varied effort to clear the field of formidable opponents and culminated with the domination of his opponent.
By Tuesday, voters may have remained disgusted with Reid and unhappy with his pursuit of a Democratic agenda, but — thanks to Reid’s $20 million effort to define his opponent as extreme and dangerous — their disgust with Angle ran deeper.
“I can’t believe she was even on the ballot,” said Alice Hatfield, a Las Vegas Republican who voted for Reid. “Doing away with Social Security, Medicaid, privatizing the VA — no way. Harry needs to go, but there’s nobody on the ballot to replace him.”
Aware that his leadership position would increase the negative opinion of him among Nevada voters, as well as saddle him as a top national target, Reid began working as early as 2005 to build a campaign organization to withstand the political forces that would align against him.
He identified top Republicans who posed a significant danger, and helped to land them important appointments to keep them out of the race, such as the federal bench in the case of then-Nevada Attorney General and now Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval or the Ways and Means committee for U.S. Rep. Dean Heller.
Add to that a decimated Nevada GOP, and Republicans failed to field a single formidable candidate, and instead had a crowded primary of B-listers. …
Read the whole thing here.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post asks: what’s next for Sharron Angle? She doesn’t fit the profile of a Fox News babe, and so probably won’t have the cable TV future of a Christine O’Donnell or get a
birth berth (sorry, spelling like a teabaggie… thanks savvy reader Joe!) on “Dancing With the Stars.” And the consensus that she ran the single most racist campaign ad of the political season can’t bode well for her future in a state whose population is nearly one-third Hispanic. So where does the irascible tea party candidate go from here? (Much the same question could be asked of New York wildman Carl Paladino…)