Democratic hopes of keeping Harry Reid's Senate seat would probably be better with a different nominee. But the state has trended in a Republican direction since Barack Obama's strong victory there in 2008 and the party will have a tough time there this year Reid or no Reid.
On Reid our numbers find the same picture all other recent surveys in the state have: he suffers from 58% disapproval and trails Sue Lowden by a 51-41 margin and Danny Tarkanian by a 50-42 spread. It's worth noting that despite Reid's unpopularity only 42% of voters in the state think he should step down from his leadership position while 49% think he should remain.
Reid wins the Democratic vote and loses the Republican vote pretty handily, both par for the course, but he trails Lowden by 35 points and Tarkanian by 25 with independents. Those numbers would make reelection virtually impossible
Because of Reid's perilous position and the recent uptick in their fortunes Democrats in Connecticut found last week after Chris Dodd's retirement we decided to look at where some alternative nominees for the party would stand.
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and Secretary of State Ross Miller don't do much better than Reid. Berkley trails Lowden 46-38 and Tarkanian 47-39, while Miller trails Lowden 44-34 and Tarkanian 45-34. Although their initial margins are no better than Reid's it appears Berkley and Miller would probably have more upside, as each is an unknown quantity to most voters in the state. 46% have no opinion about Berkley and 66% say the same of Miller.
Polling considerably better than Reid is Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, an independent but one who would presumably run as a Democrat in the event of a Senate bid. Goodman leads Lowden 42-40 in a potential contest and ties Tarkanian at 41.
Goodman is more popular than anyone else we tested in the poll on the Democratic or Republican side. 43% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 21% unfavorable and in an unusual twist he's viewed positively by a plurality of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. He polls better than Reid because he trails the GOP candidates by only 18-20 points with indys, in contrast to Reid's 25-35, and because he nabs 16% of the Republican vote in both match ups to Reid's 9%.
Goodman's initial polling numbers are encouraging comparative to Reid, but it's hard to say how he would hold up in a statewide campaign. One thing for sure is that Reid's issues are not exclusive to him and reflective of a general souring on national Democrats in Nevada. Barack Obama's approval rating is at a negative 44/52 spread in the state and the Democratic health care bill is even less popular at 36/54. Goodman or some other Democrat might have a better chance than Reid but it's going to be a tough road for the party in any scenario. A Reid retirement wouldn't have nearly the immediate positive effect for Democrats that Dodd's in Connecticut did.
Full results here