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NV-Sen: Fearing a huge letdown, Democrats send big names to Nevada late in the game

Democrats fear that Rep. Jacky Rosen may be unable to beat Sen. Dean Heller, so they are sending high-profile names to campaign in Nevada in the final days before the election. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Democrats, fearing that Sen. Dean Heller might not be as vulnerable as they thought, are sending in the big names to campaign on behalf of their candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen.

For a long time, the narrative has been that Heller's seat was ripe for the taking. Hillary Clinton won Nevada in 2016, and Heller has turned off some voters with his alliance with President Donald Trump.

The counter-narrative, however, has been that Heller is a political survivor who knows how to win an election. Two weeks before the election, Heller still appears to be surviving.

"Dean Heller just connects with people, he just does, he always has," Heller strategist Mike Slanker told Politico. "There's a reason he's won every election he's always run for. People like him."

Igor Bobic, writing for HuffPost, summarizes Democrats' growing anxiety as Heller continues to hold a close lead in the polls:

"It seemed like there was every indication Dean Heller was toast this year. He's the only GOP senator up for re-election in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016. He aligned himself with Donald Trump, a figure reviled by many communities here, after once saying he 'vehemently' opposed him. He voted to repeal Obamacare, a risky move that opened him up to blistering attacks over healthcare. ... But worrying signs about lagging Latino engagement across the country and Trump's rising popularity in Nevada could hand them an unexpected setback in November."

So, the Democratic Party has enlisted star figures Barack Obama and Joe Biden to campaign in Nevada over the past week, with Sen. Bernie Sanders up next.

From James Arkin of Politico:

"National Democrats are flocking to Nevada to prevent a massive disappointment in a state that has gone blue in three successive presidential elections -- but has proven tougher for the party in midterm years."

It also appears that the anti-Trump anger that brought Latino voters to the polls won't be there to boost Democrats in midterms -- exposing the fact that Democrats have relied on giving Latinos an enemy to vote against, but not an inspiring candidate or platform to vote for.

"Latinos have been asked to play defense over and over again and over again," said David Garcia, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Arizona, to MSNBC. "What we haven't had in a very long time is something to vote for."

And perhaps most importantly, the Republican Party has stepped up its ground game in Nevada to compete with the "Harry Reid Machine" that has worked for Democrats in the state in the past.

"I believe you saw the best the Democrats had to offer and it was great," Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald told Politico. "I believe we surpassed that this year."

Still, the race is considered a toss-up, and October polls show that the candidates are within 1-3 points of one another in either direction. Sen. Heller is getting his wish.

"If I have to be in a Senate race, I want to be the race," Heller said in August.

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