It looks as if Harry Reid is at high risk of losing any Senate leadership role after Tuesday’s election.
Reid said Saturday that it’s all up to Iowa to determine whether he keeps his job. He told Democratic donors that if Republican Joni Ernst wins her victory, it “would mean . . . that Mitch McConnell would be leader of the United States Senate.” Given that Sunday’s Des Moines Register poll shows Ernst with a seven-point lead over Democrat Bruce Braley, Reid can be forgiven some nervousness.
But Reid may also not even remain minority leader after Tuesday, though Democrats around him exude inside-the-Beltway loyalty to him in public. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 ranking Democrat and a man known for his ambition, told Meet the Press last month that Reid had a lock on the majority leader’s job. But he didn’t extend his optimism to cover what would happen if Democrats suffer a Senate bloodbath on Tuesday and must suddenly anticipate a tough path to regaining Senate control even in 2016, when the electoral map will favor Senate Democrats once again.
Reid himself, normally a picture of blustery self-confidence, has toned down his insistence that he will stay regardless of the electoral outcome.
That crucial element of Reid’s leadership style — designed to prevent Republicans from forcing Democrats to vote on “gotcha” amendments — has had the unintended consequence of giving Democratic senators running in red states few chances to show any independence from President Obama.