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Short Takes: Reid's Squeeze

The squeeze is on for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A new poll released by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee suggests that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should tack to his ideological left, the latest example of the party base putting the squeeze on the leader even as he faces significant electoral peril next November.

The poll, which was conducted by Research 2000 for the PCCC, showed that more than nine in ten Democrats (92 percent) thought Reid was "not progressive enough" while just six percent said he was "too liberal". Independents were more divided on the question although 55 percent said the Reid was not progressive enough while just 40 percent said he was too liberal.

The data also showed -- as have several other surveys conducted in the state of late -- that Reid is not well-liked at the moment with 35 percent favorable ratings as compared to 54 percent unfavorable. Roughly one-third of Democrats expressed disapproval with Reid (a relatively high number for one of the party's leaders in Washington) while six in ten independents said they viewed Reid in an unfavorable light.

From a rawly political perspective, Reid's number among self-identified Democrats may not matter that much as he does not have a primary race and it's hard to imagine loyal Democratic voters ultimately opting for either former Republican state party chairwoman Sue Lowden or businessman Danny Tarkanian.

But, the problem for Reid is that the left's insistence that he more closely adhere to their preferred agenda coupled with their willingness to call him on it when he doesn't puts him in something of a political vice vise -- caught between the desires of his national party base and the conservative tendencies of the state where he is trying to win re-election.

It's not a comfortable place to be.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 22, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Senate , Short Takes  
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He should get Nancy Pelosi to join him on the campaign trail.. have a few whine and cheese mixers.. break rubber chicken together.. it's all about teamwork..

I'm not sure which way that I'm going to tack today.. maybe I'll check the wind direction..

Posted by: newbeeboy | October 23, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

>>>>From a rawly political perspective, Reid's number among self-identified Democrats may not matter that much as he does not have a primary race and it's hard to imagine loyal Democratic voters ultimately opting for...

I'm just baffled by such a statement. Hasn't Chris seen enough elections in which a politician's base stayed home in large numbers and thus cost him or her the election? That, together with a dearth of enthusiasm and activists, presents a SERIOUS problem for him.

I dare say many progressives are wondering whether Reid's defeat would even be desirable if that nets us a less wimpish Senate Majority Leader. That even such a thought might cross many of his voters' minds alone, bodes ill for him.

Lets face it. Much as Specter Reid has to run to the left as fast as he can to have a chance. He needs to get together the resounding coalition that easily gave Obama NV's electoral votes.

Bottom line: I think Reid's toast if he can't deliver a reasonably strong public option. He reeks weakness. And no voter respects such wimpish behaviour.

Posted by: charlesf1 | October 22, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Now that I read this, Chris, I can say I learned nothing. Reid's personal politics should be aimed towards them that brought him, the people of Nevada. Taking a poll of those who do not matter is meaningless.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 22, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

And all you leftist radicals who want to complain about his leadership need to remember, Barack, Harry, and Nancy are going to play the "Try for Bipartisanship" roll to the hilt until the House and Senate reconcilliation Bill hits the floors of both houses. at that point Bipartisanship becomes moot. Fifty votes for the bill in the Senate is all they need, and they have more than enough in the House. Sometimes political leadership requires patience and very soft speech. When the Republicans stand up for the roll call on Health Care and one by one slit all forty nine of their own throats, there will be nary a smidge of Democratic fingerprints on the murder weapon.

Got Healyh Care done, check. Budgets nominally on time, check, rebooted and restarted the economy, check. tried for promised bipartisanship, check, troops coming home, check, world likes us better then any time in this century, check. What does my opponent, Attila the Dumb nave to offer? Six More Years of shrubbery. neet!

Posted by: ceflynline | October 22, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Its actually a reasonably comfortable place to be, since whatever his opposition is it ISN'T going to try to position itself to his LEFT. When 55% of independents wold like to see you become more LEFTIST you are actually well placed as a Democrat. They will vote for someone. Do you really think it will be the troglodyte the Republicans gig up for his ideological purity?

Posted by: ceflynline | October 22, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Harry just keeps on adding more and more knots to his rope. Nevadans are planning on surprising him with their own voter nuclear option.

Posted by: jbentz1 | October 22, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

It seems CF8 has turned into some drive-by pedant philosopher. Without Jake he seems even more impotent than ever.

Make that pederast philo ( not the dough), but almost as flaky.

Posted by: snowbama | October 22, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Becoming interesting would be a giant leap forward for Sen. Reid. He's almost as boring as Rep. Dennis Hastert was. Politics is such a fascinating and impassioned affair, you'd think the houses in our nation's legislature could come up with leaders who inspire something other than a quick nap.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | October 22, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

For the life of me I can not understand the reasoning that suggests that an energized republican base gives them a shot in 2010.

And the best way to counter that is to demoralize the democratic base.

Posted by: jdornisch | October 22, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

All these various bills stink. 500 billion cut in medicare with the baby boomers coming on line means rationing for seniors. I'm a democrat but my vote will not be there in 2010.


You do that, champ, you show them frying-pan flippers who's boss, and you jump out into the fire. That'll sure show'em.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | October 22, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Typical dem "leader". Straight down the drain.

Posted by: snowbama | October 22, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

All these various bills stink. 500 billion cut in medicare with the baby boomers coming on line means rationing for seniors. I'm a democrat but my vote will not be there in 2010.

Posted by: buzzychief | October 22, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid's problems (and the problems confronting the advance of Progressive legislation) would be easily remedied by one simple bit of medicine which the GOP has shown to have in rampant abundance--- a spine.

Posted by: BlusterMonkey | October 22, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Chris, it's a "vise" -- not a "vice".


Nothing compared to "even more worse"

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | October 22, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I can not believe it, putting the success and failures of the health care reform in the hands of 1 female senators. She is trying to wait for the uninsured killed due they can not afford insurance.
What is happenings to our government. Is it all money at the end? Reform is a failure without PUBLIC OPTIONS or Single Payer System. This is the only leverage that we have when it come to the greedy insurance companies. We are watching.

Posted by: alvin1435 | October 22, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Then again, having a progressive organization denounce him as too conservative may actually help Reid establish himself as independent of the national Democratic party.

While he may be in a position of national leadership as majority leader, Reid ultimately has to get re-elected in Nevada. Tacking rightward may annoy liberals across the country, but it may be what he has to do if he wants to stay employed in the Senate. Ignoring the PCCC will only help him in Nevada.

However, if the Dems gain some more seats in the Senate, the liberal wing might mount a leadership challege. Time will tell.

Posted by: Gallenod | October 22, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

All proponents of "The Public Option" in the health insurance debate need to ask themselves several simple questions.
1) How do Medicare and Medicaid, two government plans, fare in terms of solvency?
Poorly and annually insolvent.
2) If the gov't truly will not deny coverage for any illness or pre-existing condition, how will they be solvent?
They won't be, taxes will increase annually to fund the shortfalls, guaranteed...if they keep the pre-existing condition terms.
3) What has the President consistently pointed out as the main purpose for "The Public Option"?
Competition with private insurers.
4) How difficult would it be to compete if you could remain insolvent year after year, funded by tax revenue, fines and various other forms of backdoor taxation?
It would not be difficult, it would be eventually disastrous, just as the same politicians have warned us about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to coerce us into blind support.
So, by all means, let us bestow greater powers upon these few suits who take responsibility for nothing.

Posted by: TheFreeMan | October 22, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Majority Leader Reid is a fearful character. How is he going to react to Senator Snowe threat of not going to stop a filibuster? He probably use that as an excuse to exclude the public option. However, he was unkind to his fellow Senator Schumer when he said "It is not up to him..." to include the Public Option. Harsh with his friends but weak as water with the opposition. He does not deserve his position as Leader.

Posted by: jorgemrn2 | October 22, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Chris, it's a "vise" -- not a "vice".

Posted by: rlalumiere | October 22, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid has the title Majority Leader but a better label might be Majority Administrator. He has not lead in any sense of the word. The time is long past for Reid to be a leader in the sense that he should kick a few Democratic butts and tell the Republicans to go to Hell. If he can't get the Blue Dog Democrats to get in line, then he needs to make them pay the price. Even if the Blue Dogs won't vote for a comprehensive health care bill with a strong public option, he needs to use a big stick to get them to vote for cloture. Then a 51 vote majority could get the bill passed.

Maybe it is time for a real Senate Majority Leader.

Posted by: mtrobt | October 22, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

harry Reid's problems are self-inflicted, to the extent that they were not inflicted by Senate Democrats who, very bizarrely, chose to keep him as Senate Majority Leader this year despite his failure to deliver on ANYTHING as Senate Majority Leader since the 2006 election.

Unfortunately, Senator Reid seems to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome -- an insistence on collaborating with Republicans for fear of having feelings hurt. On issue after issue, he has caved in, generally without even being asked -- and has gotten nothing except derision for his futile efforts at "bipartisanship."

Senator Reid seems not to have realized that he is the MAJORITY leader and that it takes only 50 votes plus VP Biden to get a bill through the Senate. Yes, it may take 60 to stop a filibuster, but why would he not want to allow Republicans to speak at length on what nothings they have to offer? (Note: Nine months after Inauguration Day, knowing that health insurance reform was a key part of President Obama's agenda, the Republicans have not come up with even a silly piece of legislation of their own.)

Given the number of service employees in Nevada, even if some of them insist on voting against their own interests, I see little downside for Reid in voting -- and moving the Senate -- the way that the American public as a whole and probably large numbers of his constituents want.

Posted by: edallan | October 22, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Good thing Harry Reid could care less what the liberal wing of his party thinks.

When he passes healthcare reform with a trigger for a public option, cap and trade legislation, and a strong bank reform package all before the next state of the union then the party will fall in line.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 22, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"Independents were more divided on the question although 55 percent said the Reid was not progressive enough while just 40 percent said he was too liberal."

"and the conservative tendencies of the state"

How can you write these two contradictory statements in the same post? Why do you refuse to look at the actual numbers instead of the beltway conventional wisdom?

What is your basis for the assertion of Nevada's conservative tendencies after Obama's win and the recent posting...

Posted by: justmy2 | October 22, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse


Despite knowing how extremely difficult the Leader's actual job is, I thought Tom Daschle not only did the job far better, but with the appearance of greater competence--fairly or un-!

Frankly, I should like to see Sen. Schumer as Senate Majority Leader. He seems to know how to get things done and with minimal 'on-stage' histrionics.

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but Leader Reid, however gifted, is at least as responsible for not getting more of the President's agenda through.

I don't recall Trent Lott or Bill Frist having these problems--much less these public embarrassments.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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