Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid debated Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who is challenging him for his Senate seat, on Thursday night as part of their increasingly close contest. The symbolism of the race, with an out-of-nowhere Tea Party figure set to topple a senior Democratic leader, has made it one of the most watched of the 2010 midterm elections. Here's what happened at the debate, the state of the race, and what it all means.

  • Clash of Philosophies  The New York Times' Adam Nagourney says Reid and Angle showed "a vivid contrast of philosophy" and "offered fundamentally different visions of the role of government in dealing with issues including health care, regulating banks and the insurance industry, and using government programs to create jobs. ... Mr. Reid said that in a time of economic turmoil, he viewed the role of government as creating jobs. ... Ms. Angle said she opposed forcing insurance companies to cover any kind of procedures — including mammograms and colonoscopies — arguing that these decisions should be left to the private market."

  • Debate Could Decide Race  The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza concedes that most debates have little effect. "Every once in a while, however, a political debate comes along that genuinely matters to the outcome of a race. Tonight's debate between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and former Nevada state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) is one of those moments." After months of flubs and missteps eroded her sizable lead in the race, "Tonight's debate is Angle's best -- and maybe last -- chance to prove to voters that all of the bad things they have heard about her are inaccurate and the result of simple partisan sniping."
  • 'More Flubs Than Fireworks'  Politico's Jonathan Martin writes, "Republican Sharron Angle lashed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the only debate of the Nevada Senate race Thursday night, telling the Democrat to 'man up' at one point and questioning how he got wealthy during his years in Congress. Reid repeatedly called Angle 'extreme' and touted his work on behalf of the economically beleaguered state. While neither gaffe-prone candidate committed a major error, both struggled throughout the hour-long forum at a PBS station to convey their message and defend their past statements. The much-anticipated showdown here had more flubs than fireworks."
  • Angle Had to Convince Voters She's 'Not a Kook'  Conservative blogger Allahpundit writes, "[This is] their first and only meeting of the campaign and a rare instance where a debate really might decide a race. Expectations are for the most explosive incident in Nevada since whenever the last nuclear test was. ... They’re dead even in the RCP poll of polls, but if Angle performs well and convinces the few remaining undecideds that she’s not the krazy kook Reid’s been telling them she is, that tie won’t last long."

"Man, Harry Reid is the WORST. Except for that crazy lady running against him." -every Democrat on Twitter last nightless than a minute ago via TweetDeck