"She's running the worst campaign in the country, and she could still win."
That was James Carville talking about Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, previously a virtual unknown, who is giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a run for his political life. Carville was trying to divert attention from the fact that Harry Reid has been tied in his fight against Angle, even though Reid's outspent her and has a well-established name.
The name's a large part of his problem, though.
"They have fallen out of love," Angle tells me about Nevada voters' not-that-into-you relationship with Reid. She believes they "hold Harry Reid personally responsible for the policies coming out of Washington, D.C."
There is 14 percent unemployment in the state of Nevada. On the campaign trail, Angle says, people ask her about the economy. They ask, "'How can we get this turned around?'" Angle says. "They're upset with the spending. They're upset with the debt ..."
"Folks like me who aren't really looking for a job," Angle tells me, "we have children and grandchildren who are in the workforce. And when we call and ask, 'How are you doing?' what we really mean is 'Do you still have your job and can you still make your mortgage payment?'"
In this climate, Reid celebrating "only 36,000" lost jobs in America as "really good" -- as he did in response to unemployment numbers in March -- doesn't play all that well. You don't have to be Reid's opponent to reject his spin on his job performance: "My role as majority leader has been very, very good for Nevada," he said in an interview last summer. "I control what goes in and out of the Senate, and as a result of that Nevada's gotten far more than its share."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran an article last year that bluntly contradicts Reid's sunny portrayal: "Nevada ... is getting less help from the federal government than most other states on a per person basis. In total stimulus funds, the state has a per capita rank of 50th out of 51 (that's 50 states plus Washington, D.C.); in education funding, it's 51st; in transportation, it's 48th; and in Medicaid funds, it's 47th."
The final accounting may just show Reid paying the price for failed leadership.