In case you hadn't heard, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now embroiled in a controversy over some racially clueless remarks he made during the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary season.
This is not the first problem Senator Reid has faced during his re-election effort, but it should be the last. It is very difficult to see how Harry Reid can win re-election at this point.
At the base of Harry Reid's problems are the unemployment and foreclosure rates in Nevada. In terms of foreclosures, "Nevada is #1 in the entire country, and has been so for years. Further, the Silver State has significantly higher unemployment than the rest of the nation. Even the recent drops in unemployment in Nevada have come as a result of tens of thousands dropping out of the Nevada workforce, not from an increase in jobs.
There are few places in the country, if any, that have been hit harder by the recession that Nevada (and that includes Michigan). In that environment, it would be difficult for any longstanding, powerful, well-known politician in the state to be re-elected. And, in Nevada, there are no better known, or more powerful, longstanding politicians than Harry Reid.
Given all this, it is not surprisingly that Reid's re-elect numbers are terrible. The last three polling organizations to survey the state show Reid losing by 6.3% and 7.0% to a couple of Republican unknowns. His numbers would likely be even worse if the Republican candidates were better known.
While at one time there was an argument that Reid could still have won re-election by using his vast monetary advantage to go nuclear on his unknown Republican opponents, thus driving up their unfavorables, this latest incident now makes that much more difficult. This is a sort of scandal has the potential to cut right at the heart of Reid's base, which is mainly the 30% of state voters who self-identify as non-white. It may not turn into a big deal, but it will be something of a deal. Given his current position, taking any hit, especially among his base, is virtually fatal to Reid's chances.
Unlike Connecticut, there is no Richard Blumenthal figure to sweep in and secure the seat for Democrats if Harry Reid chooses not to run for re-election. However, if Reid did not decide to run for re-election, it would at least give Democrats a fighting chance in the state. Nevada has a Cook PVI of Democratic +2, and a voter registration advantage of 43.9% to 35.6%. Even in the current Nevada political environment, a good candidate and a good campaign can win this for Democrats.
Right now, due to political circumstance, his national visibility, and this new scandal, that candidate is not Harry Reid. With a March 12th filing deadline for the Democratic primary, Democrats need a new candidate, and fast.