Harry Reid, a US Senator from Nevada since 1987 and Senate Majority Leader since 2007, is proving to be a crucial component in Obama’s reelection success in Nevada. Reid has spent the past 10 years building a political machine that helped Obama win in 2008 and carried Reid to a re-election victory two years ago that shocked many pollsters. Reid’s political machine is widely praised and recognized, on both sides of the aisle, as one of the most effective voter- organizing and money raising political organizations in the nation.
However, this year’s presidential contest in Nevada’s close election will test the power of Reid’s political machine. Reid’s organization is a key factor in the decision making process of many analysts, who predict a narrow win for Obama in the state. These predictions speak volumes to the power of Reid’s political machine given the unfortunate state of Nevada’s economy and the voting history of the state.
Reid has made it clear that a victory for Obama would be a personal victory for him. Many believe that Reid’s maneuver of Obamacare through legislative hoops led to an unlikely victory in the Senate. Obama trumpets the passage of Obamacare as the big accomplishment of his first term, along with leaving Iraq and the death Bin Laden.
In Nevada, Reid’s supporters are a dedicated and modern campaign team. They have been seen walking through neighborhoods with iPads linked to headquarters, feeding and updating information about potential voters. Despite using modern tools, their tactics are unchanged: find people who are likely to vote for your candidate and make sure they make it to the polls or vote early. Tangible effects of Reid’s political machine can be seen in the extreme voter registration advantage of Democrats in the state.
So how is the Romney campaign combating the power of Reid’s political machine? They have responded by building a parallel political organization, Team Nevada. Their hope is to match the combined forces of Reid’s Political Machine and the presence of Obama for America in Nevada. Recently, hundreds of volunteers of Team Nevada, mostly from southern California and Utah, gathered outside the campaign’s headquarters before heading to knock on doors in the influential Clark County.
Despite Team Nevada’s impact in the state, Republicans in Nevada are not negating the advantage Harry Reid brings to Obama’s campaign in Nevada. Ryan Erwin, Romney’s senior advisor in Nevada, said, “Turnout is going to be important. And, candidly, the Reid machine and the Democrats have been better and more disciplined than we have been for the better part of a decade.”
Republicans likely hope that Team Nevada will have enough reach to combat the influence of Harry Reid and pick off voters who voted for Obama in 2008 but have since been discouraged due to Nevada’s devastating economic climate. This could be a difficult task for Republicans as Reid has been extremely vocal in his disapproval of Mitt Romney and his strong endorsement carries tremendous weight in the state.
So what is the bottom line? It could come down to what Nevada’s swing voters find more influential, the campaigning of Team Nevada or the rhetoric of long time Nevada leader Harry Reid. Both sides have a strong base in the state, Hispanic voters generally for Obama and LDS voters generally for Romney, however the marginal group of undecided voters in Nevada will be key in determining the outcome on November 6th.