Reid's sick numbers

He carried the healthcare bill through the Senate and may be paying the price for it

By Thomas Schaller
December 16, 2009 1:35AM (UTC)
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The bad news just keeps on coming for Harry Reid.

A new poll commission by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee--who seem to be everywhere lately--shows his approval numbers dipping further. Right now is, of course, a key policy moment during which Reid simultaneously looks weak to some for not keeping his coalition together and caving to Joe Lieberman, and yet looks to people on the other side of the spectrum like a Nancy Pelosi whipping boy who pushed through the Senate a giant socialized medicine reform bill. The poll was done nationally, not just in Nevada, and here are the findings:


Overall, 55 percent of respondents nationwide said weak. 36 said strong. Nine percent said "not sure." Reid does alright among Democrats--only 37 percent say he's weak, with 58 percent saying he's doing a good job. But he's getting creamed among independents by almost the opposite numbers. Only 34 percent of independents say Reid is a strong leader, while 58 percent say "weak."

Things are, if anything, worse for him in Nevada, where a majority of Democrats describe him as ineffective.

I have never been a fan of Reid's, I must confess. But this week I almost feel sorry for him. The health care reform battle was destined to be a tough fight for all Hill Democrats and the White House, but for Reid even moreso than Speaker Pelosi or President Obama. The president can speak and decide unilaterally. And although Pelosi cannot, she at least has more favorable chamber rules, a generally more ideological coherent majority, and basically the same size (59 percent of seats) majority. (Bigger, in fact, if you don't count Lieberbulwark and Bernie Sanders)

And thus it was always destined to be a grim outcome for Harry Reid as he carried this bill to passage. And now Harry's Carry is starting to look like political-electoral Hara-Kiri.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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Harry Reid Healthcare Reform War Room