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More desert poll tremors for Nevada's Harry Reid

January 13, 2010 |  5:28 pm

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Good political news and bad political news for Nevada's embattled Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid today.

The good political news for him is that most everyone's attention is focused on the developing Haitian catastrophe. The bad political news is his awful poll numbers are getting awfuller, which isn't a word but should be in this case.

New Rasmussen Reports numbers out today show the Democrat's support has plunged 7 points since last month, a time frame involving his demeaning remarks on his president's skin color and manner of speaking. That puts Reid right at 36% approval now, less than 10 months before Nov. 2 midterm elections. That 36% is barely half the 61% vote total Reid got in his last reelection bid, even saddled then with the losing John Kerry-John Edwards national ticket way back in 2004.

Today's poll news comes atop what The Ticket reported here the other day, a recent....

...Las Vegas Review-Journal poll that put the veteran senator at 33% state approval, his lowest ever. And this 70-year-old has been around Silver State politics for a very long time.

Noted political prognosticator Stu Rothenberg has changed his reading of Nevada's traditionally conservative political Senate scene from "Toss-up" to "Lean Takeover" by the GOP, noting it is "extremely difficult" for any senator to recover from such numbers in a reelection year. This is especially true for a blunt-talking one with decades of experience -- and enemy-making.

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And 2010 is a tough year to mount comebacks. Nevada's 12.3% state unemployment rate is third-highest in the country, despite the $787-billion Obama economic stimulus package that Reid helped shepherd through Congress last winter with his political partner Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

And then there's the Daschle factor, named for Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who lost a 2004 South Dakota reelection bid after his highly visible, highly partisan role as Capitol Hill party spokesman.

Rasmussen's poll found traces of voter resentment over Reid's similar role and suspicions that working so much for Obama's liberal White House agenda, especially the controversial healthcare bill, was a serious distraction from home-state business.

One warning sign for Republicans: Rasmussen also finds that Reid's mounting troubles have not benefited their potential candidates in polling, all of whom are shown to beat Reid. It's just been Reid falling over himself.

The leading possible GOP opponent, Sue Lowden, a former state party chair, isn't missing the opportunity to get in some whacks at the mole.

"He has said things such as former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan was a political hack," Lowden told Fox News. "He said that we've lost the war, while our sons and daughters were in the midst of battle in Iraq. He has said that the tourists smell at the capital. And it just goes on and on. He's — it's an embarrassing situation that we have here in Nevada."

Reid will likely have more money than his opponents, thanks to last year's multimillion-dollar fundraising party with President Obama at Caesar's Palace. And we're sure to hear more rumblings about Reid pulling a Dodd and retiring rather than risk almost certain defeat, as fellow long-term Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd recently did under pressure from D.C. party operatives worried over protecting their 60-seat filibuster-proof Senate majority. Ironic if the 60th seat lost to Senate leader Reid was his own.

Dodd rejected any retirement talk and even had Vice President Joe "Where's the Podium?" Biden up to Connecticut to raise money for his reelection bid shortly before Dodd aborted it. Reid too has rejected any retirement talk. But now, hmmm, comes word that the president is coming for a Nevada visit next month.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press

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