11:30 p.m.: Cross-posted from The Fix, by Chris Cillizza:
New Poll Reveals Reid's Vulnerability
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in a precarious position as he seeks a fifth term in 2010 -- viewed unfavorably by half of the Nevada electorate with a similar number saying they will vote to replace him next fall, according to a new independent poll released today.
Just 38 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Reid as compared to 50 percent who had an unfavorable opinion in a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Asked whether they were planning to vote to reelect Reid next fall or would vote to replace him, 35 percent said they would cast a vote for Reid while 45 percent said they planned to replace him. Another 17 percent said they would consider replacing Reid.
More (potentially) troubling for the Democratic leader was the fact that just 61 percent of self-identified Democrats said they planned to vote to reelect Reid. Looked at one way, that means Reid has room to grow among base voters. Looked at another, the very people among whom Reid should be strongest are pretty strongly divided in their attitudes toward him.
Reid allies argue that the Review-Journal's polling have consistently undersold Democratic performance in recent races, noting that the final survey conducted for the paper in 2008 showed President Obama leading Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) 47 percent to 43 percent even though the Democrat ultimately won by 12 points.
Maybe, but the reality is that the Review Journal poll is far from the only survey that has shown Reid in serious trouble in his reelection race. A poll done late last year for the liberal Daily Kos blog, which makes no secret of its animus toward Reid, echoed the job approval and reelect numbers of the Review Journal data.
Given Reid's shaky standing, it's somewhat remarkable that no prominent Republican has stepped forward yet to challenge him. National Republicans have focused their recruiting on Rep. Dean Heller who was elected to the 2nd district in 2006. In the Review Journal poll, Heller is not widely known statewide with 30 percent of voters viewing him favorably and 15 percent seeing him in an unfavorable light.
Combine Reid's poll numbers with the fact that taking out a leader of the opposing party has become a major priority in recent years -- Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) was defeated in 2004, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came close to losing last fall -- and it's hard to imagine that Republicans won't find someone credible to take on the top Democrat in the Senate.
7:00 a.m.: Cross-posted from The Fix, by Chris Cillizza:
White House Cheat Sheet: Steele Tries To Turn the Page
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will call for an end to the "era of apologizing" in the GOP and urge his fellow party members to "focus all of our energies on winning the future" in a speech today to a gathering of RNC officials in Maryland.
Steele also will draw a contrast between the moderate policies President Obama ran on and the way he has governed, which, Steele will say, "could not possibly be further to the far left."
Steele's speech and an accompanying op-ed in Politico are meant to mark an end to a disastrous period for him personally and the party more generally. Elected in January, Steele has struggled through a series of self-inflicted wounds even as his pledge to make the party more competitive in the Northeast was dashed by New York state Assemblyman Joe Tedisco's narrow loss in the 20th district special election in late March.
That defeat, coupled with Steele's penchant for verbal flubs, has led some in the party to move to circumscribe his ability to spend the committee's cash -- a resolution that will come to a vote later this summer. (One resolution to be voted on tomorrow is to rename the Democratic Party the "Democrat Socialist Party," a proposal Steele said was not "appropriate" during an interview on "Meet the Press" Sunday.)
Despite those setbacks (or perhaps because of them), Steele will insist that the future of the GOP lies not in looking back but in pushing forward -- using the tried and true example of conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
"Ronald Reagan never lived in the past," Steele will say. "Ronald Reagan was all about the future. If President Reagan were here today he would have no patience for Americans who looked backward."
The question for Steele is whether or not the RNC officials gathered to hear his speech are willing to give him a second chance to, um, make a first impression.
At the January vote in which Steele staged a come-from-behind victory to claim the RNC chairmanship, it was clear that there was genuine excitement in the room about the prospect of an African American from the strongly Democratic state of Maryland being elected as the visible face of the party.
That excitement has dissipated in the face of a series of misstatements by Steele, the loss in New York's 20th district and the general malaise that has continued to haunt the GOP in the wake of its electoral whitewash in 2008.
Steele, on paper, can still be the right man at the right time for the GOP. He is a charismatic public speaker and television presence whose career is evidence of the possibility of Republicans getting elected in blue states.
And, his call to "take this president on with class....take this president on with dignity" strikes the right tone for Republicans seeking to score political points off of Obama as hard partisan attacks seem to glance off of him without leaving a mark.
This is a major moment for the Republican party generally and for Steele in particular. Can he effectively hit the restart button on his chairmanship today?
Tuesday's Fix Picks: You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends but you can't pick your friend's nose. Truer words were never spoken.
1. Scott Wilson on the Obama-Netanyahu meeting and what it all means.
2. Caroline Kennedy says her kids played no role in Senate pullout.
3. Sarah Palin weighed aiding Hillary Clinton pay down her debt. Really.
4. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons attacks President Obama. Goal: Rescue flailing governorship.
5. Disney is coming to Maryland.
Newt Joins National Council: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) will join the National Council for a New America (NCNA), according to sources familiar with the move. The NCNA, the brainchild of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), drew some initial criticism from social conservatives within the party due to its heavy membership among establishment types like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. But, with Gingrich's addition -- and that of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a few weeks ago -- those critics may be quieted somewhat. It still remains somewhat unclear as to what the NCNA will do to help the Republican Party re-establish itself as a major power in the country. To date, the sum total of its activities has been a single town hall meeting in northern Virginia.
Labor Takes on Wyden: A coalition of labor groups -- led by the National Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the United Food and Commercial Workers is funding a radio ad -- to the tune of $60,000 -- that attacks Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden for his support of taxing health care benefits. "The last thing we need is to pay more," says the ad's narrator. "But Senator Wyden would tax the health care benefits we get at work -- as if they were income." Wyden is the primary author of the Healthy Americans Act, a proposal from which elements of President Obama's own health care bill are likely to be borrowed. With this ad -- and a subsequent campaign of direct mail and telephone calls paid for by AFSCME -- organized labor is sending a clear signal to the White House (and to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus) that any attempt to include this funding mechanism in a health care bill will set off a fight.
Virginia Debate Today!: The Fix is sequestered in an undisclosed location (read: my basement) preparing for today's Virginia gubernatorial debate between former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, state Sen. Creigh Deeds and former state Del. Brian Moran. It's the last debate before the June 9 primary and yours truly, along with NewsChannel 8 anchor Bruce DuPuyt, will be moderating the proceedings. Not busy at 2 p.m. today? Head to Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale to watch the debate live OR check out the live feed on washingtonpost.com. (Sidenote: Posting will be somewhat light today due to our moderating responsibilities.)
Say What?: "From the day Hillary Clinton ended her historic bid for president, Terry worked tirelessly to unify our party around Barack Obama and get him elected president." -- Former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle affirms the Macker's strong support for President Obama.
May 19, 2009; 7:03 AM ET
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