Sunday, October 21, 2007

Will Harry Reid be Daschle-ized?

The publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sherman Frederick, ponders the risk that Harry Reid is running of traveling ideologically so far from the Nevada electorate that he runs the risk, in 2010, of encountering the fate of Tom Daschle. A recent poll showed that he had a 51% disapproval rating in his home state. And he's never been elected with strong majorities.
Let me spell out Harry's problem. No one can win a statewide race in Nevada on a platform that appears anti-military, anti-family, anti-marriage, anti-religion, anti-free speech, pro-illegal immigration, pro-abortion, and pro-taxation. While Harry isn't all of that personally, he clearly projects elements of them all when he's doing the bidding of his party on the national stage.

(It also doesn't help Harry's numbers when he foolishly attacks Rush Limbaugh, only to have the conservative radio talk show host lash back in a brutally effective rebuttal for the entire nation to hear.)

Tom Daschle knows what I'm talking about. He was Harry's predecessor in the Senate. He, like Reid does now, carried the liberal banner of his national party and slowly but surely his support eroded in his conservative home state of South Dakota. Then one day he woke up with big negatives and the next day he was unelected.

Whether you buy into the 51 percent number as the precise level of Nevada dissatisfaction with Reid or not, it's crystal clear the Daschle effect is in play with Reid. And that means his next race may be the political fight of his life.
Frederick expects Reid to tone down his rhetoric as he moves closer to his reelection in 2010. Perhaps he could that if he had a Democratic president to accompany his majorities in the House and the Senate. But the Senate is still a very difficult place to push through bills and nominations that the minority rejects. A group of 41 senators can block almost anything if they are determined to do so. It might not make them popular, but they can be successful as the history of the past 20 years in the Senate has demonstrated. The only thing that would help would be for one party to have a filibuster-proof Senate; maybe the Democrats would have such a majority if they can count on the handful of liberal Republican senators. The fight for the Senate is going to be perhaps even more consequential than the White House race next year.

Much as Republicans are, I'm sure, eager to put up a credible opponent against Reid when he runs for reelection, they first have to be sure that they don't allow him to get close enough to the majority next year that he can push through whatever the Democrats want without much worry about the minority.