Hotline editor Amy Walter reminds us, in her latest column for National Journal, that even in a "wave" election year, the quality of individual candidates matters. Walter looks at two, in particular: Sue Lowden, the GOP's frontrunner to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada; and Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for President Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois.


Both have macro-scale advantages: Lowden is running against the unpopular Reid, while Giannoulias could expect to be buoyed by Obama's wild popularity in deep-blue Illinois. But Lowden faltered in a TV interview, and Giannoulias's family bank was just declared insolvent and taken over by the FDIC.

As Walter points out, candidates still have to confront their own unique problems, even if larger currents work in their favor. See Walter's column for more analysis of both races.

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