Cock It & Pull It

The key to last night was low expectations. And among a rash of terrible-but-expected results, one improbable win stands out: against all polls, against all odds, Harry Reid kept his Senate seat. This win denies the Republican Party a crucial trophy, but more importantly, the race’s divergence from polls (as of 1:14 AM, Reid outperformed by 2.8%, and Angle underperformed by 5%) suggests a new rule of the game: insurgent, radical candidates like Angle may poll better than they perform, because when it comes to decision time, some voters may be simply unable to pull the trigger.

Results are still premature, so it’s too early to generalize the rule, but if such an effect exists, Nevada is where you’d expect to see it. Angle held absurd policy positions, and stumbled from one gaffe to the next during the campaign. Her only attempt to control the first factor, by denying substantive dialogue whenever possible, insulted the voters’ intelligence. She was a true empty vessel, a protest vote against a system that, for all it problems, will benefit for her absence. Reid, on the other hand, is thoroughly mainstream, and ran a flawless campaign. It’s good to see that both of those factors still matter, and the Republicans ignore this lesson at their peril, going into the now-two-year campaign season.

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One comment

  1. Well, another thought is that Nevada is tougher to poll than other states. If you only call landlines in the evenings, you’re going to miss a lot of casino workers.

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