For months and months, Harry Reid seemed
about as likely to be reelected to the Senate as the Orioles are to win
the American League East. But a new
poll now shows him leading all three of his main Republican rivals.
As the folks over at TPM point
out, the GOP candidates have done an excellent job of knocking each
other down. But there may be a bit of a hidden religious factor at work
as well. At the Mormon History Association meetings in Kansas City last
weekend, the word was that the leadership of the LDS Church was putting
out quiet signals that it would be a good thing if Reid retained his
seat. No Mormon has ever held a higher position of authority, and even
if virtually all of the church’s general authorities (as
they’re called) are Republicans, keeping a Mormon Democrat as Senate
Majority Leader is preferable to having him replaced with a first-term
None of the three leading Republicans are Mormons,
and though a latecomer to the field, Chad Christensen, has been playing
the LDS card for all it’s worth, he’s not given much of a chance.
Anecdotally, Reid–who is an active and enthusiastic member of the
church–seems to enjoy considerable LDS support.
How much of a
difference does the LDS vote make in the Silver State? According
to the 2008 Trinity ARIS, Mormons constitute only 5.2 percent of the
population. (Thanks to emigration from
California, that’s down from 9 percent a decade ago.)
Still, in a close election, a few percentage points matter, and turnout
among Mormons is always high.
Mitt Romney scored a huge and
unexpected victory In the January 2008 Republican
caucuses, racking up over 50 percent of the vote to Ron Paul’s 14
percent and John McCain’s 13 percent. Later that year, Obama beat John
McCain handily, 55-43. With the quiet blessing of Salt Lake City, I
wouldn’t count Harry Reid out this year.