Everyone seems to think that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) is measurably better off now than he was before the primary and that he now has a 50-50 chance of winning another term. Everyone but me. Reid obviously has the resources — and now a potentially vulnerable target in Angle — to change the likely outcome of the race, so it bears watching.
Still, I don’t believe that last week’s primary fundamentally changes the Nevada Senate race. I don’t believe that the race is a pure Tossup. If Angle wins, she wouldn’t be the first flawed hopeful to make it to the Senate, even from Nevada. Given all of these considerations, Angle’s primary victory doesn’t dramatically alter Reid’s prospects for the fall. Reid continues to run poorly in polling, and as long as the general election is about him, President Barack Obama and jobs, the Senate Majority Leader will be in deep trouble. It’s Reid’s numbers that matter most, not Angle’s. And Reid’s numbers still look terrible to any dispassionate observer.
The chances of Reid improving his own standing are small. He’s simply been around too long to do that, especially given his recent position as Senate Majority Leader and his role in advancing the president’s agenda in a midterm election year. That means Reid’s only alternative is to drive up Angle’s negatives, ultimately making her unacceptable and sneaking to victory as the lesser of two evils (or three, given the presence of a tea party candidate on the ballot). It will be difficult for Reid to make the election about Angle, whose demeanor doesn’t seem scary to voters, than about Obama, the unpopular Congress, the economy and the Democratic agenda. And that’s why Harry Reid is still more likely than not to lose.