Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Can Sharron Angle beat Harry Reid?

Yes. Will she? Probably. I know Reid desperately wanted to face Angle as he thought she was the weakest candidate for the general election. That's probably true; both other major GOP candidates polled better against Reid than Angle did but that doesn't really say much for what will happen in November. Reid does have a major cash advantage, the backing of the unions, the President and much of the gaming community in Nevada. However, he's the Majority Leader and will be constantly attacked for the legislation that has passed in the last two years-especially the major health care reform package that he bullied through the Senate last December. Moreover, Nevada is suffering terribly from the effects of the recession, especially in Clark County (Las Vegas) where he'll have to pull a lot of votes to win. Angle will probably crush Reid everywhere in Nevada except Las Vegas but I suspect strongly that she'll get more votes there than the experts think. The real estate slump and the extremely high unemployment rate have struck hard in Vegas and the voters there are in a foul mood. Reid's approval rating is stuck under 40%-a number that makes it very difficult for him to win. Certainly Angle is very conservative and I'm sure Reid and his allies will call her every name in the book-you can expect this to be the ugliest Senate race this year. Harry Reid has been in Nevada business and politics since the 1960's and he has 100% name recognition. Because of that I suspect strongly that most voters have pretty much made up their minds about him and aren't planning on voting for him. He'll have to turn them against Angle which will be quite difficult and very expensive in the months to come.
I know many people think Angle cannot beat Reid because she is so conservative. I would refer them to the 1994 Senate election in Tennessee between three-term incumbent Jim Sasser and a heart surgeon from Nashville named Bill Frist. Sasser had been a veritable institution in Tennessee politics and considered his reelection a slam dunk. In his commercials he told voters that in 1995 he would become part of the Democratic leadership in the Senate and would be able to bring back money, jobs and influence to the state. There was one problem; Bill Clinton was president and Sasser lost by about 17 points. He didn't nearly have the negatives Reid had and was facing a novice politician. He had been a moderate on most issues and had become a powerful voice in the Senate for his state. But it all came to nothing as he was trounced on election night, 1994. Harry Reid has some of the highest negatives for any politician running for reelection in modern history. He is responsible for the left-wing legislation that has poured out of the Senate in the last two years. He doesn't have a lot of room to manuever. Can he win? Sure. Will he? I wouldn't bet on it. Don't let the "experts" try to convince you that Sharron Angle can't win. To say that they defy political history which is replete with examples of powerful people who have been taken down in defeat (Jim Sasser, Tom Daschle, Tom Foley). Nobody is politically bulletproof; especially in Senate elections.

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