Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NV-Sen: National Media Finally Notice What We've Already Discussed

So now, the lights start turning on in the DC pundits' heads. Who would have guessed?

If Republicans nominate Sharron Angle as their Senate nominee next week, could majority leader Harry Reid, beleaguered, fatigued, unpopular, pull off an upset win? You betcha.

Remember, it's one of the two "mainstream" Republican candidates in the race, Sue Lowden, who had problems explaining how the state's residents could barter for their health care. Lowden may pull off a win next week, but she's run a fairly atrocious campaign, one that a competent Democrat could exploit with ease.

Angle -- she's something else. Democrats hope she makes Rand Paul look like Trey Grayson. For one thing, she has some tangential but already exploited connections to Scientology. She supported a prison rehab bill that would have included massages for prisoners -- a bill that's been taken out of context, but she's already been mocked for it. Also, she doesn't seem to like beer very much. Beer's being legally consumed, that is. Oh, and she supports reprocessing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, arguably the one thing that Harry Reid's enemies give him credit for opposing. Lowden's campaign charges that Angle, who is campaigning across the state on a pick-up truck, illegally used private planes.

Heh. And these complaints are coming from someone caught doing this?

Nevada Democrats on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Republican Sue Lowden's spending that they say violates campaign finance laws.

Lowden's campaign manager told a Las Vegas newspaper last week that "we're spending money as it comes in," including at least $18,000 that could be spent only if she makes it past the June 8 primary.

"We have enough to win, but we're not going to come out of this primary with cash on hand," Robert Uithoven told the Review-Journal last week. [...]

Democrats also pointed to reports that show Lowden had purchased more television ads that would put her spending above primary-flagged donations alone — despite another $100,000 from Lowden's personal account last week.

A message Tuesday to Lowden's spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Lowden, a wealthy business executive, leads a crowded pack of Republicans and has seen her lead slip to tea party darling Sharron Angle.

Oh jeez, yet another Suzy Lowdown scandal! The scandaliciousness never ends with Luscious Ms. Suzy.

Oh wait, who's that trying to push his way past all the wacky elephants in the room?

Never mind, it's just soon-to-be-also-ran John "Cha-cha" Chachas. But thanks, Mr. Sebelius, for letting us know he still exists.

Back to those pesky DC pundits finally starting to realize what we Nevadans already know. Or wait, are they?

Lowden, the one-time clear frontrunner, has struggled mightily to get out from under a self-inflicted wound caused by comments about a health care system based on bartering -- with chickens. (Yes, chickens.)

Combine that gaffe with an increased focus on her brief record as a state legislator -- courtesy of a tough ad from the Club for Growth, which is supporting Angle -- and it's no surprise that the polling shows a genuine drop off for Lowden not just in her head to head matchup with Reid but also in her own favorability ratings.

While Republicans are bashing each other on the television airwaves, Reid is running a trio of ads touting the benefits for Nevadans of the health care bill -- a nice politics vs. policy contrast that is likely accruing to his benefit as well.

At issue for Reid is what we have taken to calling the "Corzine conundrum". That is, how does an incumbent who is universally known in his or her state -- not even one percent of Nevada voters said they didn't recognize Reid's name -- and pulling between 37 percent and 43 percent support in hypothetical general election matchups win?

OK, let's clear the air here. Nevada is NOT New Jersey. (Sorry again, Ms. Suzy.) We have scores of third-party and no-party candidates already scheduled to be on the November ballot. "None of These Candidates" may very well also draw a number of votes. In a state known for being so "independent minded", it's easy for a candidate to win with less than 50% of the vote. I'm not necessarily condoning this, but it's true: It's not all the difficult to win in Nevada with a simple plurality.

Now the rest of Chris Cilizza's post I can understand. Harry Reid can focus on positive ads like this...

While the GOoPers slash each other to death...

And it certainly helps that Senator Reid can talk about important women's issues and child health issues with First Lady Michelle Obama here in Nevada while the GOoPers keep trying to out-crazy each other. Just sayin'... ;-)

But anyway, it seems like the national media are finally catching up to us Nevadans on this Senate race. It was never really as cut and dry as they thought it was early this year. Reid obviously didn't "already lose", and a GOoP win was obviously not "inevitable". As soon as Nevadans started seeing what Reid can do (pass good legislation) and what the GOoP challengers can't do (offer any meaningful policy ideas on anything), we're now getting a better sense of what to expect in the last five months of 2010 campaign season.

So what are we to take from all of this? Again, I leave you with Desert Beacon:

The Beltway Boys and Girls love a good freak show. While local reporters are doing dull, but informative pieces on voter turnout, or voter registration, the Beltway Chatterati and anointed Punditocracy all too often become absorbed by their own frameworks. Any item in the political news is then crammed to fit in the framework du jour, whether a logical synthesis is applied or no. The Tea Party presents just such a show and framework.

Unfortunately, for every Tea Party member with legitimate philosophical questions about government limitations and functions there seemed to be another willing to hold up a blatantly racist sign. Guess who garnered the attention? Tea Party members opposed to individual mandate for health insurance made less of a splash with the corporate media than the confused senior citizens who said, "Get the Government Out Of My Medicare." But, the Tea Party folk were "new," (not really) and "exciting" (not so much), and "numerous" (actually not very) and the corporate media was bedazzled by a bright shiny new object.

Something else we've always observed after mid-term primaries: Tip O'Neill was right - all politics are local. Trends in Kentucky have relatively little meaning for voting activities and results in Nevada. Issues important in northern New York, or southern Pennsylvania, may not translate directly into Nevada political discussions with the same weight. However, this won't stop the chatterati and punditocracy from attempting to extrapolate broad conclusions from the results of local elections. [...]

There are also issue that tend to get the attention of Nevada voters which hold no significant level of national interest. For example: The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository; or Internet Gaming; or Water issues. There are elements that don't fit into the national narrative du jour and are consequently omitted from the pattering of the pundits. Such as: What is the effect of a governor who was photographed with his "date" at a D.C. event, who didn't seem to remember having said "date" when they left the same aircraft at the Reno airport? What is the effect of having no primary of interest in the 2nd Congressional District? What's the effect of having a Senatorial primary on the GOP side between one imploding campaign and one perceived "unelectable" one? What's the impact of having relatively little primary contention on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race?

Pay especially close attention to that last paragraph. Local issues matter. Yucca matters. The well-being of Harrah's, MGM Mirage, and the entire gaming industry matters. Sloan Hills mining matters. A number of issues that the DC pundits don't consider "sexy" matters, and we're now seeing this come into play.

And finally, we're now seeing the real problem with the teabaggers. They're all about heat, and nothing about light. They complain often about what they're against, but they can't explain what they're for. How else can one explain why all the GOoP candidates have rushed to support storing nuclear waste at Yucca? Or how none of them has said a peep about the proposed Sloan Hills gravel pit near Henderson? Or how none of them can talk about anything not mentioned on the script handed to them by either the RNC or "Tea Party, Inc." containing nothing but incoherent nonsense on taxes and immigrants?

This is all becoming clearer now. And it seems the Beltway Pundits are finally noticing. Welcome to Nevada, pundits. Now sit back and enjoy the ride as you realize that we the voters actually will have the final say in this election. ;-)

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