In Nevada, echoes of the 2010 midterm election

February 2, 2012

The Democrats learned a great lesson in Nevada in the 2010 midterm elections. That is, when you are very vulnerable and facing likely defeat in a reelection battle, try to ensure you have the weakest possible opponent.

Sen. Harry Reid had almost no chance of being reelected. But suddenly, a savior appeared on the horizon, in the form of an unelectable Republican, former assemblywoman Sharron Angle. But Angle had no money. So Reid and his team came to the rescue. The Reid campaign unleashed negative ads on Angle’s more appealing opponents. It worked, Angle won the GOP primary, and Reid beat her with ease in the general election.

Well, it is a coincidence, but as the Republicans are gathering for the Nevada caucus, the Democrats are about to use their Nevada model again. This time, they will mercilessly attack Mitt Romney in multiple states, hoping they can make Newt Gingrich the nominee or at least weaken Romney if his nomination is indeed inevitable. For the Obama campaign machine, starting the sustained negative barrage against Romney now is a win-win situation. I assume the attacks will begin with a howling attack centered on the fact that Romney is rich. Nothing torments President Obama more than someone who has made money and managed to keep it. Also, it will be interesting to see who bemoans the lack of civility in American politics when these attacks start almost nine months before the election.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
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