Las Vegas Sun

August 23, 2014

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Political Memo:

Sharron Angle, Harry Reid have yet to pursue the undecided

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle

To this point, the most exposure Nevada voters have had to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican rival in the U.S. Senate race, Sharron Angle, has been through attack ads.

But what of the other ways they are seeking to connect with voters? In an attempt to chart the ground movements of the leading candidates in one of the nation’s most closely watched races, the Las Vegas Sun requested the complete August campaign schedules of Reid and Angle.

Neither candidate provided a detailed account of time on the trail. What they did reveal showed both sticking primarily to small-venue events and targeting their bases rather than attempting to reach wider audiences.

Reid rallied Democratic volunteers at canvassing kickoffs and spoke with Democratic constituencies such as gay and lesbian organizations, Hispanic voters and liberal activists. Angle spoke at Tea Party rallies and conservative country concerts and to rural business leaders.

Reid is battling the voter malaise that has settled into the Democratic ranks since the Obama wave in 2008 has fallen short of delivering an economic turnaround. And Angle has had to raise her profile among Republicans after her surprise victory in June’s GOP primary.

“They will be shoring up the base until Election Day,” said Fred Lokken, a political scientist at Truckee Meadows Community College. “They cannot afford to lose anybody. On both sides there are weak spots in the base.”

Reid’s campaign declined to release details of his fundraising schedule. Reid has said he will raise $25 million to fuel his re-election bid. The campaign also declined to say when Reid traveled out of state and for what purpose.

“It’s just not something we do,” Reid spokesman Jon Summers said when asked why the campaign wouldn’t disclose the candidate’s entire schedule. “I think we’ve given you a pretty good look at how he spent his time here.”

The Reid campaign repeatedly has refused to provide advance notice of his appearances, saying that for security reasons it publicizes events only a day or so before they happen.

But it’s also strategic. “We’re also not going to share his entire schedule for the Angle campaign to analyze and figure out what our strategy is,” Summers said.

Angle’s campaign hasn’t exactly been forthcoming, either. At the start it listed a month’s worth of her scheduled appearances on her website. Now, it features just one or two events at a time.

In the schedule provided to the Sun, Angle’s campaign listed the dates of her fundraisers, but didn’t release the names of the hosts, or detail with whom she attended “meet and greets.” Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said those events were “private.”

Reid made full use of the August recess, packing the month full of tightly targeted campaign events. He visited work sites, met with business leaders, ate tacos in Pahrump and gave keynote speeches at graduations and energy forums. He also worked to beef up his Second Amendment cred by attending a sportsmen’s clay shoot in Reno and touting local law enforcement endorsements.

Reid attended a Nevada event nearly every day in August. His campaign said “he only spent a handful of days out of state.”

Angle also kept up a busy pace. But being in the thick of an aggressive fundraising sweep, she spent nearly one-third of her time outside Nevada. She gave speeches, attended fundraisers and headlined rallies in Colorado, Illinois, Texas and California.

And she made considerable time for conservative talk show hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Roger Hedgecock.

Angle also engaged in her franchise campaign tactic — precinct walking. With clipboard in hand, Angle has built much of her political career by talking to voters one-on-one on their doorsteps.

Both candidates spent relatively little time in rural Nevada. Reid made a trip to Mesquite and one to Pahrump. Angle visited Eureka, Elko and Ely.

Both held three times the number of events in Southern Nevada as in Northern Nevada.

Having spent the summer shoring up their bases, both campaigns likely will shift to identifying and persuading the small number of undecided voters left.

“In terms of the race, both campaigns are playing it a little safe,” Lokken said. “Both are heavily scripted because it’s so close. Honestly, I’m waiting to see what either candidate is going to do to try and move that 5 percent undecided.”

Angle’s strategy for finding those undecided voters will be to target voters who don’t typically make it to the polls in nonpresidential elections, Agen said.

Reid’s campaign refused to provide any insight into the schedule it is developing for Reid when he returns to the state in October.

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