So really, Dean Heller is in a bad mood today. And there's a good chance his weekend is about to become even worse. There's now open talk of how much Romney will hurt down ballot Republicans. And back here in Nevada, Romney's "secret weapon" of a "turnout machine" is looking increasingly like a loose cannon that's firing on its own troops.
Democrats continue to out-register Republicans month after month. As a result, they have a 56,000-voter advantage over Republicans — a direct indication of a turnout machine’s effectiveness.
And while public opinion polls show the presidential race is a statistical dead heat, not a single survey has put Romney ahead of Obama.
That has made some Republican operatives and donors increasingly nervous. They privately gripe about the fact that Team Nevada has failed to live up to its very public promise to outperform Democrats in voter registration this year.
“There’s been significant concern about the voter registration numbers in that Team Nevada was formed to counter the typical Democratic surge,” said one Republican operative who asked not to be identified in order to speak frankly about the effort. “They set the expectation that they would be able to keep up with the Democrats. That clearly hasn’t happened.
“This entity was created because people did not want to invest in the dysfunctional state party. We wanted to steer the money toward a program with a level of competency. But clearly, it’s difficult to keep up with the Democrats.”
Republicans have worked to deflect attention from the sagging registration numbers. Strategists familiar with the operation say they are targeted to exceed their registration goal. Instead of using registration numbers to gauge the operation’s strength, they point to the experience of the Nevada consultants running the coordinated campaign, including operatives Mike Slanker and Ryan Erwin, who both know the state well.
Here's the problem for Team Nevada: As Hugh Jackson pointed out yesterday, Slanker & Erwin are trying to relive their "glory days" of 2004 while remaining oblivious to the changed political landscape of today.
And here's another problem for Team Nevada: What they're doing in the field just isn't working. As we've discussed so many times before, field matters. Yet while Nevada Democrats have been busy registering voters, knocking doors, and making calls, Nevada Republicans' "Shadow Party" does hardly anything beyond spinning the media.
Here's the proof: I was at the Henderson DMV again today. Four Team Nevada registration workers were scrambling around the entrance and shouting at customers. They kept asking, "Quick poll: Romney or Obama?" And most DMV customers were bristling and rushing to dart inside to escape the madness. Seriously, this is NOT how to register voters.
(And by the way, this is how Darren Littell gets to his ridiculous "All the Nonpartisans we register are breaking for Romney!" claim.)
And as Anjeanette Damon discovered, many of the "voter contacts" they claim they've made are just attempts. It's increasingly looking like Team Nevada must "cook the books" in order to make their numbers look good for Romney and Heller. And this explains why Dean Heller has been so dour lately.