Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can Harry Reid Survive 2010?

Summary: Harry Reid has had a rough time in the polls lately - but there are several reasons he can he still pull off a fifth term.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has made Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) a top target for the 2010 midterm elections.

Back in May, we posted this goofy ad the NRSC released attacking Reid for a fundraiser in Las Vegas:

We’ve seen this movie before. In 2004, the NRSC spent millions of dollars to defeat then-Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. The Democrats have a habit of selecting senators from moderate states to lead in the chamber. It can come back to bite them because they have to balance their constituents’ beliefs with the goals of the larger Democratic Party.

With a high disapproval rating (at 54%) of Reid among Nevadans, he seems like the logical next target for the GOP. So far, two Republicans appear to be challenging him, and both are leading him in the polls.

But are there signs of life for the Majority Leader’s campaign?

Most will agree that Reid is vulnerable going into next year, but few will say it’s a done deal. Reid has more than a few things going for him in this upcoming election.

First, just take a look at Nevada. While it is largely a moderate state, the aggregate Cook PVI is still D+7, and registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans about 44% to 36%. On top of that, Reid’s approval rating has been as high as 45% over the past month - it could be worse.

Then there’s the incumbency effect. The Reid campaign is already working on an outreach strategy that will “reintroduce” voters to their Democratic senator, touting his work on their behalf, including his move to block nuclear waste from being stored at Yucca Mountain.

Campaigning will be tough, but the successes Democrats have had in Nevada over the past four years will make things easier. Simply put, the Democrats have located important activists and donors who will come in handy come election time. In 2008 the Democrats had over 100,000 more volunteers than the GOP for GOTV efforts in the Silver State.

And let’s not forget the war chest. So far Reid has raised $11 million for next year, as just part of his $25 million goal. The shear amount of spending on this race is likely to be unprecedented in Nevadan politics, and Reid is certain to have the advantage.

Columnist Howard Steiner is currently writing a series of articles in which he pretends he is a Reid candidate, developing a message that would prop up a theoretical challenger to victory.

From his column:

The Republican challengers for Harry Reid's senate seat hopefully understand that they cannot count on Reid's lack of popularity in the polls to carry the election. Democrats no doubt will get out the vote and the Republican Party is still in a shambles.

And that’s exactly our point: Reid will not necessarily be a Daschle, and the GOP can’t expect him to lose without a fight.

No comments: