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July 30, 2015

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jon ralston:

Assessing the winners, losers and the future

So who won and who lost Tuesday, besides the folks on the ballot?

A partial list:

Winners

Team Reid: I have talked about this a lot, but a book should be written about it. (Hmmmm …) Without the best campaign team this state has seen, Sharron Angle might well be a U.S. senator. Most of the attention has been on the turnout operation, which was phenomenal. But this was a top-to-bottom machine that will never be reproduced again in this state — research, media relations, rapid response, television ads, voter targeting, polling. This campaign left nothing to chance because it knew it couldn’t afford to, considering the candidate’s propensity to speak in a Reid dialect, even when he doesn’t have to, and the seething, percolating disdain for him in the electorate. How many guys who start out with about a 50 percent unfavorable rating get elected? Almost none. Almost.

Hispanics: So many Hispanics turned out that the numbers defied the most optimistic estimates of the Reid folks. Even the Asian-looking ones must have gone to the polls. Hispanics made up about the same percentage of the electorate as they did in 2008, according to preliminary analysis and exit polls — 15 percent. Angle took a calculated — and, yes, shameful — risk by airing ads that were decried as racist and set off waves of revulsion in the Hispanic community. She hoped to get independent votes, but she never counted on dramatically improving Hispanic turnout. A fitting reward, I’d say.

Mike McGinness: Many in Las Vegas probably never heard of him. But thanks to Bill Raggio’s embrace of Harry Reid, he is now the leader of the state Senate Republicans, and the man any tax package must go though. That is, if he can hold his divided caucus, and if Raggio just sits on the sidelines and doesn’t try to gum up the works. Sure, that’s likely.

R&R Partners: The megafirm always wins, although it was on the outs with the Gibbons administration. But this year, its two principals were principal advisers to the candidates who won for U.S. Senate and governor. Pete Ernaut will be as close to Gov. Brian Sandoval as he was to Gov. Kenny Guinn, and Harry Reid won’t forget that Billy Vassiliadis was with him from Day One. If R&R goes public, I want stock.

TV stations: On “Face to Face” in the closing weeks of the campaign, our breaks became elongated because so many ads were sold. It made the program shorter, which I’m sure thrilled many people. And it made Jim Rogers a ton of money, as the ad glut (mostly for the Senate race) did for other station owners.

Losers

Rory Reid: One of the untold stories of this season is that the commissioner actually turned out to be a pretty good candidate for someone who has never run statewide. He is much more engaging and funny on the campaign trail than his father, and he is a whip-smart quick study. But he never had much of a chance, should not have run and had an almost incoherent strategy. But my guess is he’s not done. Maybe when his dad gets his numbers up (or retires).

The black helicopter set/the haters: Most sane voters realize that Reid won fair and square. But those who could not contain their fury — and they are a minority but there are still too many — are still whispering about how the senator won because Harrah’s pressured employees to vote or because the Service Employees International Union hacked the voting machines or because unions bused employees to the polls. Three words: Get over it.

Review-Journal: Enough said. The “newspaper” invested its news and editorial operation with an unmatched ferocity to try to destroy a U.S. senator. Harry Reid is still a U.S. senator. When you try to kill the king, you better kill the king.

Predictions

Yes, I was out on a limb on that forecast Harry Reid would win. But he did — and it wasn’t that close (almost 6 points, 40,000 votes). Still waiting for an apology from the nattering nabobs over on Bonanza Road.

I hit the 3rd Congressional District race almost dead-on — I had Joe Heck winning 48-46. He beat Rep. Dina Titus, 48-47.

The governor’s race got into double digits — I had it at 9 — and I was close but not quite in the Legislature. I had Sen. Joyce Woodhouse losing, but wrongly foretold Elizabeth Halseth being defeated. I was only one off in the Assembly. I said 25 Democrats — there are 26.

But the Reid prediction would have made my oracular year, even if I got everything else wrong. Kudos happily accepted for a few more days.

Coming Sunday: How Reid won

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