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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reid hits new low in poll. Rating is worst in R-J's surveys for 2010 election

More than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It's the worst "unfavorable" rating he's received in the newspaper's surveys for this year's election, and it comes amid quiet speculation -- or perhaps wishful thinking by his opponents -- that it's time for the Nevada Democrat to retire rather than lose re-election.In response, Reid told the Review-Journal Friday he wouldn't consider stepping aside as did Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, whose announcement this week prompted rumors that the Senate majority leader might think about ending his political career now that he's the most vulnerable incumbent.

"I am absolutely running for re-election," said Reid, 70, in a statement. "These are difficult times for Nevada and as the majority leader of the Senate I have been able to take action to address those challenges. But I know there is more work to do to turn our state's economy around and create jobs and I am committed to seeing it through."Most independent political analysts firmly discounted the idea that Reid would quit the race, despite poll after poll showing him in a losing battle with potential Republican opponents, who surveys suggest would beat him if the election were held today.

Instead, it looks like Reid the former boxer will duke it out to the end in the political fight of his life, wounded by his leadership on health care reform, the dismal economy and an anti-government and anti-incumbent fervor that's put the in-power Democratic Party on the defensive nationally."Is Harry in trouble? Certainly. Is he out of the game? No," said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada. "I see it coming down to the fourth quarter. And everybody says the fourth quarter is where the best game is played.''

That's what the Reid camp is counting on. The November election is 10 months out, which may give the senator's expected $25 million-fueled campaign time to sell him to Nevadans again -- and time to tear apart his GOP opponent once a contender emerges from the crowded field in the June primary.''He's never backed down from a fight,'' Reid campaign manager Brandon Hall said in an interview when asked whether Reid would retire instead of seeking a fifth Senate term. He added, ''We're not trying to win a beauty contest here.''Reid's numbers are pretty ugly, according to the latest survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which interviewed 625 registered Nevada voters by telephone Jan. 5-7. The margin of error on the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

According to the survey:

• 52 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Reid, 33 percent had a favorable view and another 15 percent said they're neutral. In early December, a Mason-Dixon poll put his unfavorable-favorable rating at 49-38. The lowest Reid's popularity had slipped before in the surveys was 50 percent -- in October, August and May of 2009, when Mason-Dixon started tracking the senate race for the Review-Journal.

The poll also took a snapshot of how Reid would do against three potential GOP opponents. In each case -- as in past Review-Journal surveys -- it showed the senator would lose with only four in 10 voters supporting him. The potential match-ups would look like this:

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