By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The GOP is pushing back on recent stories that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's re-election isn't going to be tough. Aides and his pollster have said recently that Reid's internal polling isn't as bad as some of the public polls and that he is working overtime to reach out to new Nevadans in meet-and-greets and early campaign ads. His situation has supporters feeling confident that the Democratic-leaning state won't oust him like GOP-leaning South Dakota did to the last Democratic Senate leader, Tom Daschle. Those points were made in a recent Whisper.
But GOP officials working on the race are countering that story line. They claim, for example, that polls show that Nevadans are familiar with Reid, so he doesn't have a name ID problem. And many who say they know him are irked by his partisanship, thanks to his role in pushing through the stimulus, bailouts, and now healthcare reform. And while Nevada is more Democrat-friendly than South Dakota, Reid's polling isn't great, with a recent Mason Dixon poll showing him with a 50 percent disapproval rating. That poll showed him losing to one of the GOP challengers.
"One final point," says a GOP insider. "Reid and his camp, including [pollster Mark] Mellman, consistently say that their 'internal' polls show him to be in a far stronger position than all of the public polls that have been done. Well, if that's the case, why don't they make that secret poll public? If the half-dozen public polls which have shown Reid to have the worst numbers, along with Sen. Chris Dodd, of any incumbent in either party, are in fact wrong—well, why haven't they released their own numbers? I'll argue the reason they haven't is because his low numbers are very real."
Reid allies acknowledge his uphill climb, especially in a state hit hard by unemployment. But they cautioned against underestimating Reid's ability to fight back and convince voters that his leadership in the Senate helps his state.