These ads are compelling not only on in their message -- that Harry Reid has delivered thousands of new green jobs to Nevada in the way that only a leader in Congress can -- but also in their delivery. Notice the silence in the ad, the lack of the standard background music of virtually all other political ads. These spots are different, which will help them stand out. The imagery is also striking. In the first ad, in particular, the narrative arc of the man going to work at a new job in the morning fits perfectly with the broader message of helping Nevadans get back to work. Great spots.
Following the decision by Republican Sue Lowden to make her campaign about bartering chickens for healthcare, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided he, too, should make his campaign about healthcare -- though reform for the 21st century rather than reform for the 19th century. Drawing a clear contrast, Reid went on the air touting his support for the healthcare reform legislation passed this year and signed into law by President Obama.
Lo and behold, the strategy has paid major dividends for Reid, as evidenced by the latest Research 2000 polling on the race (with results from April and January listed):
Harry Reid (D) 42 (41, 42) Sue Lowden (R): 38 (45, 51)
Not only has Reid taken the lead away from Lowden, he has also jumped into the lead against the other Republican candidates in the race, Sharron Angle and Danny Tarkanian. So as it turns out -- and this isn't too great of a surprise -- it appears the Beltway prognosticators were exceedingly hasty in proclaiming the demise of Harry Reid.
The last several weeks in the Nevada Senate race have seen leading Republican candidate Sue Lowden badly stumble on the issue of healthcare, speaking out in favor of a bartering system in which patients pay their doctors with chickens, and incumbent Democrat Harry Reid speak out forcefully in favor of reform. Lo and behold, Reid is now surging into the lead:
Harry Reid 42% (D) Sue Lowden 35% (R) Scott Ashjian 3% (T) Tim Fasano 5% (IAP) None of these 8% Undecided 8%
These numbers do come from a Democratic pollster, and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. What is more, Reid does not lead the other Republican polled in the race, Danny Tarkanian, with both candidates pulling in 37 percent of the vote.
That said, other recent polling on the race has also shown Lowden tanking in the polls, which cannot be bad news for Reid as he seeks reelection this fall. Perhaps making healthcare reform a central piece of this campaign isn't the worst idea after all.
You can see the whole bevy of ads here through YouTube. From my vantage, they do a good job of explaining the tangible benefits of healthcare reform legislation in a compelling way, one that actually speaks to specifics and individuals. And considering that a whopping 81 percent of Nevadans do not believe that the healthcare plan put forward by Reid's top GOP challenger Sue Lowden (bartering for care) is a "realistic way to reduce medical costs," it's probably not a bad idea for Reid to hammer away on the issue.
So on the one side you have Harry Reid, a key architect of comprehensive Health Care Reform, the product of decades of activism, in all its messiness and policy complexity.
And on the other you have Sue Lowden, who thinks bartering livestock and other commodities for health care services from doctors is a way to rein in spiraling health care costs. (If you think that's an exaggeration, take a minute and watch this video.) There's no end of comedic possibilities thinking through the logistical and logical difficulties of managing co-pays and long-term care and drug costs in chickens and other barter payment. But step back and give it a serious look and ... well, this is this woman's take on confronting medical inflation. It's funny and also sad. But as a contrast it's stark and painful.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a tough race for the Majority Leader, Harry Reid. Any way you slice it, the odds aren't great that he wins another term in the Senate. Anti-incumbent sentiments are running deep within the electorate this cycle, and Reid is hands down the most prominent incumbent in the country this year to be facing a competitive race.
And yet. Sue Lowden, the candidate who was supposed to be it for the Republicans, has made herself a laughingstock in just a few short days. When I first heard her talking about bartering for healthcare, I assumed that she had just mistaken the word for bargaining down prices, which seems to be one of the positions taken by Republicans these days (not all that dissimilarly to how Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson said Guam might physically tip over when he presumably meant that it would hit its metaphorical tipping point). But, as noted by JMM, Lowden appears to be fully embracing the idea that Americans should be bringing chickens to their doctors.
Voters can stomach a lot of statements from candidates (one need not think too long to remember instances of candidates getting elected despite having said some pretty remarkable things). But this might be one of those comments -- especially when repeated by the candidate herself -- that makes voters think twice. At the least, Lowden's bartering position takes the Nevada Senate race out of the realm of campaigns solely about the incumbent to one in which voters will actually consider the plusses and minuses of both candidates -- one who delivered on the promise of healthcare for 31 million Americans while reducing the long-term deficit by more than $1 trillion, the other a candidate who thinks Americans should pay their doctors in livestock. And that simply is not good news for Lowden and the Republicans.