How vulnerable is Harry Reid?

HOW VULNERABLE IS HARRY REID?…. The Wall Street Journal has been pushing a story about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s precarious political future. It is, as Eve Fairbanks noted, the “most read [article] on the WSJ’s website right now.”

Sen. Harry Reid will command the biggest party majority of any Senate leader in a quarter century when the new Congress convenes in January. But the Nevada Democrat is already worried about his own re-election fight in 2010.

Sen. Reid, perhaps the most-vulnerable Democrat who will face re-election in a midterm race that is likely to favor his party once again, began interviewing campaign managers last week. The Senate majority leader also recently stepped up fund-raising.

The Journal paints quite an unpleasant picture regarding Reid’s upcoming race, calling it, among other things, an “uphill” challenge for the Senate leader. The piece also notes a Research 2000 poll in Nevada showing Reid’s approval rating down to just 38%.

But I remain skeptical about Reid’s vulnerability.

First, the state seems to be getting “bluer,” with Obama having won in Nevada by 12 points. Indeed, while that R2K poll showed Reid with weak support, it also showed him leading his likely Republican challengers.

Second, speaking of challengers, Reid’s most likely opponent is Nevada’s Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who announced his campaign plans a month ago. Unfortunately for Krolicki, he was indicted soon after, a development that would likely give Reid an edge.

And third, there’s the matter of the Nevada Republican Party, which is something of a mess. Nevada’s Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, has seen his administration rocked by scandal — both professional and personal — and will be of little value in rallying opposition to Reid’s campaign. Complicating matters, Fairbanks reminds us that the state GOP just closed its headquarters in Las Vegas — Nevada’s largest city — and its executive director is moving back into his parents’ house.

Time will tell, of course, but at this point, I like Reid’s chances.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.