Happy Comeback of Republicans !

Happy Comeback of Harry Reid

Harry Reid stands at a podium.
Harry Reid played every angle in his quest for reelection. | AP Photo Close
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A lot of people have gone broke betting against Harry Reid over the years, and Tuesday was no exception.

How, exactly, did the Senate majority leader win a decisive reelection victory after being all but left for dead?

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The answer serves as a textbook-worthy case study of hard and soft campaign science. Reid played every angle. If there was an advantage to be taken, no matter how slim, he seized it. Aided by a top-flight campaign team and prodigious fundraising, he made sure no opportunity went to waste.

In the end, he captured over 50 percent of the vote to Republican Sharron Angle’s 45 percent. He overcame his home-state voters’ often intense disapproval of his performance and President Barack Obama; a Republican wave that brought down long-serving Democrats across the country; the fury and passion of the tea party; and dire local and national economic conditions.

What follows is a step-by-step guide to the Harry Reid method of winning elections.

Plan ahead

Reid saw years ago that he would have a tough reelection in 2010, and he vowed not to let happen to him what happened to his friend Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader who was defeated in South Dakota in 2004. There’s a school of thought that believes Daschle was caught napping. Reid had actually started building up the Nevada Democratic apparatus back in 2002, after the party suffered a series of defeats in statewide races to a better-organized state GOP. After Reid’s easy 2004 win and ascension to leadership, the work for 2010 began in earnest. He raised nearly $25 million for his campaign, demolishing the previous record — about $7 million — for the state’s most expensive campaign ever. He hired top-flight national consultants to work on the race, and they ran a scorched-earth effort, ensuring that every Angle gaffe was unearthed and responding quickly to any new development.

Build a machine

Reid and his top political adviser, Rebecca Lambe, turned the Nevada State Democratic Party from a squabbling club into a second-to-none professional operation. He used his considerable fundraising muscle to ensure the party had plenty of cash, and oversaw — not to say micromanaged — operations and candidate recruitment at all levels. Reid successfully lobbied the Democratic National Committee to put Nevada on the presidential nominating calendar in 2008 right after Iowa and New Hampshire; Obama, Hillary Clinton and other candidates competed hard in the state, and the party registered 30,000 new Democrats the day of the caucuses alone. 

Reid’s grass-roots operation dovetailed nicely with the Obama campaign’s organizing effort, and, as soon as the 2008 election was over, Reid fine-tuned it to work for him. With multiple campaign offices across the state and legions of staffers and volunteers, Reid’s turnout operation ensured that even in a Republican year, in a state mad at Democrats, more of his voters were flushed out of their houses and to the polls than Angle’s.


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