How Has Angle Kept Up With Harry Reid?
Most Democrats and even many Republicans agree that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lucked out in a major way when he drew tea party candidate Sharron Angle as his GOP challenger for Senate in 2010. So why, on the eve of his first (and only) debate with Angle — and less than three weeks until elections — has Reid been unable to leave her in the dust?
One of the main reasons, it seems, is how incredibly nationalized the Nevada race has become, both in terms of issues and spending. Not only have many outside groups latched onto the battle to topple the Democratic Senate majority leader as an important symbolic blow against the Obama administration, but they’ve spent accordingly. The New York Times reports today that 80 percent of the money donated to both campaigns has come from outside the state of Nevada — virtually the opposite of most major Senate races — and that’s excluding the millions in independent expenditures that have poured in as well.
As far as outside spending goes, the Sunlight Foundation calculates that it totals nearly $8 million, the vast majority of which has gone either to attack Reid or to support Angle. The practical effect has been that the once-massive financial advantage that Reid enjoyed when Angle first secured the nomination was effectively nullified by outside groups like Crossroads GPS and the Club for Growth, which rushed to her aid and filled the airwaves when the Angle campaign struggled to present a public face in the early months of her campaign. Instead of being able to jump out early and define his opponent as a fringe candidate, the Reid campaign was met by a barrage of ads that blamed him for Nevada’s bad economy and Washington’s looming budget deficits.
Outside spending, in other words, gave Angle’s campaign the semblance of legitimacy when it had none. Now that she’s just raked in a record-breaking $14.3 million over the last quarter, however, she’s perfectly capable of taking the rest from here.