Poll: U.S. Senate leader has problems in home state
Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.
A poll released on Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that half of Nevada voters had an unfavorable view of Reid, while 38 percent had a favorable view, the newspaper said.
Reid won reelection in 2004 to a fourth term with 61 percent of the vote. But his approval ratings have since slipped. He became Senate Democratic leader in 2005, and majority leader in 2007.
“Harry Reid could be in trouble,” said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington.
Duffy said Reid faces the dangers of being a Senate leader while his party controls the White House.
“You have to be in tune with the White House as well as your constituents,” Duffy said.
Still, Duffy said, she now rates his race as “likely Democrat.” But she noted that’s largely because Reid doesn’t yet have a Republican opponent.
The statewide poll of 625 Nevadans was conducted by telephone last week by the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., for the Nevada newspaper. With Democrats now holding 59 of 100 Senate seats, Reid could lose and his party could still end up retaining control the chamber in next year’s election.
Senate leaders are among the most powerful members of Congress and have routinely won their reelection. But in recent years they have faced unhappy constituents. Polls showed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in trouble much of last year. He rallied down the stretch, however, and won a fifth term with 53 percent of the vote.
Democrat Tom Daschle of South Dakota was the last Senate leader to be ousted. He was unseated in 2004 as a top target of Republicans who branded him “the chief obstructionist” to then President George W. Bush’s conservative agenda.
Reid’s campaign manager brushed off the new Nevada poll.
“The primary number Senator Reid is worried about is Nevada’s 10.4 percent unemployment rate, and that’s why he’s focused on fixing the economy and creating jobs in Nevada,” Brandon Hall was quoted as saying by the Review-Journal. “Polling numbers move up and down. The only poll that really matters is on Election Day.”
REUTERS/Jason Reed (U.S. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada)