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March 2, 2015

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Can infusion of cash buy an edge for Sharron Angle in Senate race?

$14 million fundraising haul provides her cash to match Reid as they fish for last undecided voters


Republican Sharron Angle and Democrat Harry Reid have been fishing from separate piers — campaigning almost exclusively before friendly audiences.

For Angle, it has been conservative radio shows. For Reid, Democratic volunteers. Tonight, they will make their first and only joint appearance before a mainstream audience — in a televised debate — and attempt to lure in the hidden few undecided voters who could swing this election.

Here’s a look at what Reid and Angle must accomplish and avoid during the contest (6 p.m., VegasPBS).

Sharron Angle:

Undermine perceptions created by Reid’s ad barrage.

Much of what the public knows about Angle is gleaned from Reid’s ads, which have sought to paint her as “extreme and dangerous.”

Angle has a reputation for connecting with voters one-on-one. She’ll work to convey that on TV.

“Sharron Angle has to come across as senatorial and has to come across as normal and likable,” Republican strategist Ryan Erwin said.

Avoid defending or explaining her record as a state legislator.

Angle must focus on hammering her main campaign theme: Reid — and the Democratic agenda — is responsible for Nevada’s economic suffering.

Avoid a momentum-killing gaffe.

Angle has been prone to one-liners, providing Reid with fodder for attack ads. She has said it’s not her job to create jobs, suggested women impregnated through rape or incest turn a “lemon situation into lemonade” by choosing to give birth and implied voters will take up arms if Republicans don’t win this election.

Her task will also include avoiding contradicting herself despite moderating some of her positions since the primary.

Harry Reid:

Avoid a momentum-killing gaffe.

If anyone has bested Angle in the gaffe-count this campaign, it’s Reid. Whether he’s deriding Hispanics who vote Republican, advocating the virtues of sex or lamenting the smell of tourists, Reid is adept at the cringe-inducing one-liners.

“For Harry Reid, there’s a charming side to him that doesn’t come through very often,” Erwin said. “He has to be likable.”

Remind viewers of Angle’s inconsistencies.

Whether denying her previous statements or moving away from her Republican primary positions, Angle has a tendency to fail the consistency test. Reid will likely spend time reminding viewers of that tendency.

Communicate succinctly.

Reid is known as a master strategist, not a master communicator.

His longtime adviser Billy Vassiliadis said Reid’s challenge will be to convey his message within the debate’s 60-second time limit for responses.

“He is the great explainer,” Vassiliadis said. “He needs to stay focused on what he needs to say. He tends to want to tell you everything he knows.”

— Anjeanette Damon

The superlatives to describe Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s $14.3 million fundraising haul came fast this week: stunning, breathtaking, staggering. But the most important one is: game-changing.

Angle emerged from the GOP primary in June with almost no money to wage a campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who began building a $20 million war chest in 2005.

Because Reid is an unpopular figure and top target for Republicans nationally, most expected Angle to find a deep well of out-of-state money to quickly infuse her campaign with cash. But the sheer size of her third-quarter haul — it took her only three months to raise the same amount Reid did in 18 months — caught off guard many political observers.

The money not only instantly leveled the playing field for Angle financially, it provided her campaign with a desperately needed credibility boost and momentum heading into the final weeks of the race. It also gives the Republican at the top of the ticket the resources to organize a voting base that is more motivated to cast ballots than the opposition’s core supporters.

“The story of this cycle is Harry Reid’s money versus the Republican volunteers,” Republican political consultant Ryan Erwin said. “Now, it could be Republican volunteers, plus Republican money going against Harry Reid’s money. That shifts the playing field in an enormous way.

“The perception has been Harry Reid has his machine and Sharron Angle has this ragtag effort to compete. Now she has shown that she can compete with Harry Reid’s machine.”

Still, some questioned how well Angle will capitalize on the last-minute windfall at a point when most voters have made up their minds, are certain about their choices and the airwaves are saturated with expensive ads.

“You can never convince a campaign that there’s a diminishing marginal return,” said Jonathan Krasno, a professor of political science and campaign finance expert at Binghamton University in New York. “Fourteen million is nice, and it’s certainly better than a stick in the eye. But I doubt very much that 14 million is better than 13 million, or 12 million, or 11.

“If you’re watching ‘CSI’ and see three campaign ads back to back to back, what are you getting out of the third?” Krasno said.

Within moments of Angle’s announcement, Reid’s campaign began questioning the size of the haul.

Angle, who is in the midst of an expensive television ad campaign, hasn’t said how much money she has spent. The deadline to report the number is Friday.

But it does take money to raise money. And Angle uses the Washington, D.C., direct-mail fundraising firm Base Connect, which has been criticized for keeping commissions of up to 80 percent on the money collected for its clients. Base Connect confirmed this week that Angle is a client, but representatives did not return calls seeking information on how much it charged her.

Angle has been focused almost solely on raising money. She’s run a relentless direct-mail and Internet campaign to rake in small contributions and has traveled the country headlining big-ticket fundraisers in Washington, New York and Texas.

In a news release, Angle claimed more than 194,000 individual donors with an average contribution of $90.

If that is the case, Angle has built a small-donor network that could make her a powerful political force, one that could fuel conservatives for many election cycles to come if she wins. Had she built it earlier in the campaign, she could have returned several times to those donors asking them to help fund her fight against Reid.

Still, some argue the numbers overstate her appeal because the donors are contributing not to see Angle win, but to see Reid defeated.

“Harry Reid would be a huge pelt on their belt,” Democratic consultant and Reid adviser Billy Vassiliadis said of national Republicans. “You think they are contributing to Sharron Angle?”

Another factor limiting how useful the money will be for Angle is that with less than three weeks until Nov. 2, most television spots have been purchased. The price of bumping ads is much higher than it was at the end of the last fundraising quarter.

Fourteen million dollars may not go so far as it did then and until the Angle campaign completes its quarterly campaign finance report, it’s anybody’s guess as to how much of that cash is on hand to be spent.

With most voters in Nevada aligned with one candidate or the other, the attention shifts to turnout efforts. Reid has said he will spend $5 million identifying his supporters and getting them to the polls.

Angle has the resources to match that, if not the time.

“It’s got to go to get-out-the-vote and ground game,” Erwin said of Angle’s money.

On that front, Angle’s potentially at a disadvantage. Her campaign took off only after the June primary and with a staff relatively new to Nevada, and she doesn’t have the institutional knowledge and framework that help to mobilize voters.

Campaign finance expert Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in Maine, says that is one area where extra money can help.

“They probably already have the whole voter files of the registered voters … and much of her support may come from individuals who are not regular voters,” he said. “The money allows them to put more into making phone calls, identify more individuals who might be undecided, and put more people out there knocking on doors in the final days of the campaign.”

But, Krasno said, advertising will still take precedence.

“If I convince you to vote for Angle instead of Reid, I didn’t gain one vote, I gained two — because I flipped you,” Krasno said. “That has a huge effect on the psychology of campaigns … the only problem with that is that if somebody’s sitting in their home in Winnemucca still trying to figure out who to vote for, they’re probably not really a vote switch.”

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  1. This certainly is not Pro-Angle dough.
    It's anti-Democrat, anti-Obama, anti-Harry, anti-Pelosi, the whole smear campaign that paints the dems as the demons in the economic mess created under GWB.
    and fueled by the NutJob am radio hate-talk crowd...

    "DO YOU want to be a 'Good American'? Send money to defeat the EVIL Democrat, Obama's Handmaiden, Henchman Harry. Why, he is single-handedly RUINING AMERICA! Please; SEND MONEY NOW!!!"

    And this crap is lapped up by the Tea-Set. Glad to part with their hard-earned Social Security dollars and retirement bucks, what's left of em'. Because, they, too, want to be a "Great American"!!!

    6pm tonight, channel 10, Las Vegas PBS...
    The Great Debate.

  2. To the LV Sun;
    is that HUGE RED BUTTON in case someone has a panic attack???

  3. It still all comes down to a referendum on the economy and on Harry Reid's performance as chief enforcer of the Obama agenda.

    Simply stated, the economy stinks. It was bad when Obama and Reid took charge and it's much worse now.

    Harry Reid's enormous personal unpopularity doesn't help him either.

  4. Two years ago the financial system was on the verge of colapse. Bush was no genius, but he had enough republican economists to convince him that the banks needed a bailout. The funds were timely, but not enough or evenhanded. When Obama arrived in Washington, additional funds were quickly needed to get the banks past the tipping point. Wall Street responded and now the financials have recovered.

    Jobs are linked to housing. There is no quick fix for either. Pouring money into jobs is like pouring bottled water into a dry radiator--it's expensive, not very helpful, and you don't have anything to show for when it's gone. Yet without it, you risk permanent damage to the nation's economic engine. Pouring the limited amount of bottled water didn't do much, but it did give us a sense of hope that we could make it a little farther down the road.

    We need some more water. Unfortunately, there's a squabble over who will pay for it. The workers in the front seat say they're broke. The rich in the backseat say they'll contribute if everyone does, but will be content to let the car breakdown if they don't get their way. The workers will lose their jobs if that happens, so they can't afford to call the bluff. The rich get richer.

  5. Seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on money. And the one who has shilled for money more is Sharron Angle. And this seems to be her sole emphasis. She wants to buy this election.

    I still say that no amount of money is going to make a difference.

    And I still say no amount of strategy pounded away to "Hate Harry Reid" is going to make a difference.

    Sharron Angle has views that are unwavering religious viewpoints, mixed with political ideas that harken back to the 1800s, coupled with downright crazy notions that don't make sense. Other than in her own mind.

    I guess money is important, but ideas eclipse that. Sharron Angle wants to be Senator, but she sure doesn't show anyone that she can be entrusted with the power to represent Nevadans. All indications I see is that she is selfish and greedy and wants in, but clearly has no desire to return anything back to Nevada. She's in it for herself. And this is clearly evident by wanting to change anything and everything...except those things that affect her and her husband.

    It's a no brainer. My vote goes for Senator Reid.

    My vote will ensure Sharron Angle, at the earliest, can pursue a career as a Fox News political commentator or something.

  6. Money lends credibility. Really? And here I thought it should be ideas connected to facts and evidence and history that lend credibility. Can anyone think of any cults with plenty of money, religious or otherwise, because according to the sun writer they have credibility.

  7. @ Barrett...

    "You not only have a crazy lady running against you, now she's a crazy lady with money."

    I can just hear your CraZy Lady, cackling away in a back room somewhere, uttering, "Whaddya think o' my juice NOW?" (cackle, cackle!)

    Tonight, 6pm, Las Vegas PBS. Channel 10.
    Let's all be there!!!

  8. Over the past 30 years, each of the three Republican Presidents, Reagan, Bush I & Bush II have created National Debt. Clinton was the only President to reverse that and create positive cash flow.
    So what is this about "Tax and Spend Democrats". Shear Lies.
    The last three Republican Presidents have created 80% of our National Debt and this is Harry Reid's fault? Where is John Ensign, in the 19th hole? He spends his time on the Golf Course eating sandwiches.
    The Republicans want Reid out of the way so they can return to NO BID CONTRACT TIMES for their RELIGIOUS CONTRACTORS, like ERIK DEAN PRINCE, billionaire owner of Blackwater, the NO BID Security company bilking America in Iraq. We don't need private security in Iraq!!! No Bid Contracts were a gift to Prince from Bush for his Republican Patronage. The Dept of Homeland Security is NO BID CONTRACT LAND.
    WAKE UP AMERICA and discover you are being robbed by CONSERVATIVES who what to destroy Nevada for their political advantage.

  9. I really have no business talking about Nevada's politics because we have wackjobs here in Arizona, too, but this Angle woman is just plain nuts.

  10. If this whack job Angle gets elected -I feel sorry for the State of Nevada and it's fine citizens who don't deserve someone such as she representing them. Nevada will become a laughing stock. Highest unemployment, highest foreclosure rate and Angle representing them! Pathetic. Reid isn't perfect but she is one f'ing crazy beotch.

  11. "September Bank Foreclosures Reach New Record" says abc Money News. "Home Foreclosures by Banks Top 100,000 for First Time; Overall Filings Rise 3 Percent". News from the Bush Presidency is continuing to Mount.

    Check the FDIC Failed banks list and we are up to 320 failed banks and financial institutions since 2000 AND the RATE of FAILURE is CONTINUING TO INCREASE!! Who did this, Harry Reid?

    The Greedy Money Pirates that broke America's financial system want to get back into power to COVER UP THEIR TRACKS and Sharron Angle has a LOT OF JUICE to do just that.

    Read "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free" by Charles P. Pierce. Teaching children that Dinosaurs rode on Noah's Ark is called "Reverence". No wonder Sharron Angle wants Religion in Government. They can't teach that in public schools so the objective now is to destroy public education and create private(religious) schools. Meanwhile, China is getting all the technical training they can get their hands on....

  12. Unemployment in Las Vegas BEFORE Harry Reid took control of the Senate 4.4%.

    Unemployment in Las Vegas today after 4 years of Harry Reid's destruction of the economy, 14+%.

    What an accomplishment !!!!

    If you are lovin' 3 TIMES the unemployment, by all means vote for Harry Reid so you can keep it up or get even more !!!

  13. Wait a minute! There are still undecided voters? I somehow doubt that.

  14. Harry money good. Sharron money bad. It's still Bush's fault.-----C'mon! It isn't about money, Bush, or Goliathorpe B. Bartholemeux III!

    IT'S ABOUT THE PRESERVATION OF AMERICA! Let's enlighten ourselves and vote according to who gives us the best chance of pulling us out of this disaster.

  15. Of modern politics advertising, Abe Lincoln would have said;
    "You can fool some of the people, ALL of the time"... ;^)
    -- a cool site; Balkingpoints ; incredible satellite view of earth

  16. The Angle supporters are the equivalent of American Al Quaida (or however your spell it) - they are extreme like the Christians who killed Muslims during the middle ages and the KKK who hung blacks and the folks who shot doctors who performed abortion. Yes, you are right, they are not exactly equivalent but they do set a very negative tone for most Americans. What we need is more love - it doesn't come when you spend millions to buy large bags of nuts for the one who many think is nuts.

  17. If we end up in some kind of stalemate by virtue of the party of no making large gains it can almost be guaranteed that we will spend like drunken sailors - that has always been the case when there is a bi-partisan situation the things get solved by compromises and the pork is handed out like there is no tomorrow. We will do far better with democrats in control.

  18. JanK said: "Harry Reid's enormous personal unpopularity doesn't help him either."

    According to the last poll I saw, Angle's negatives were higher than Reid's. Considering how much you guys hate him, what does that say about Angle?

  19. swede...
    That would be Mitch Fox.

    I can see the Angle "Handlers" RIGHT NOW...
    backstage, in the green room, where MAALOX is being dispensed in those big Gatorade jugs like you see at the ball games... guys are pacing around, guzzling glasses of the stuff... sweating...

  20. hey this is great way to make money in the local economy:

    Have out of state donners send in money to be spent on ads and other campaining items it is a bost to the local economy this might be the first and only thing sharron angle has done for nevada

    we should run more elections with people that we hate so we can make money on watching them fight kinda funny when you think about it

    i guess we gotta thank reid for being so hatted that people who cant vote here would spend money to see him fall