Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller was able to win re-election despite President Barack Obama’s victory in the state, and his strategy could set a precedent for Republican candidates across the country going forward.
Heller defeated Democrat Shelley Berkley in a squeaker — 46 to 45 percent. She was a flawed candidate with ethics issues, but the state party had a strong campaign apparatus to pull her through, Politico
The Republican was able to overcome that by focusing on independents. “It’s a part of the equation,” Heller’s campaign manager Mac Abrams told the news service. “When you’re down by 7 points, where are you going to make that up? Independents, it’s simple mathematics. They are a powerful percentage in the makeup of the electorate.”
Independents accounted for 34 percent of voters in the race and backed Heller over Berkley 53 to 33 percent, according to exit polls.
Independents registered to vote in greater numbers during much of the campaign. And Heller’s campaign put together a list of these newly-registered independents. Then campaign staffers doggedly tracked them down by phone and knocking on doors.
Heller also catered to independent voters himself, conducting a conference call with hundreds of them twice a week.
Given Heller’s success, why did Mitt Romney fail in Nevada? The senator says Obama did a better job of relating to the state’s citizens.
“I had a number of people approach me and say they went for the Obama-Heller ticket,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Although I supported Romney, I am not sure Romney was someone that the average person could relate to.”
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