Harry Reid’s already shaky reelection prospects just got a whole lot shakier, thanks to his observations on Barack Obama’s skin color. Reid isn’t facing a strong Republican opponent, but he’s been behind in the polls for a while now anyway, notes Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com. He’d been relying on a strong money advantage and turnout machine would help him eke out a win, but any erosion in his black support could sink him.
African Americans, who make up 10% of Nevada’s electorate, have been a bedrock of support for Reid. In one September poll, for example, he lead political neophyte Danny Tarkanian 74-5 among black voters, while trailing him 40-45 overall. If, hypothetically, 10% of those black voters switched sides, and another 20% didn’t vote, Tarkanian’s lead stretches to 47-38. Even before the gaffe, Reid was imperiled. Now, Silver concludes, he needs to at least consider retirement.