A very unpopular Harry Reid trails a very popular potential Republican challenger by 10 points

The 2014 mid-term election may not be the only thing worrying Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Sure, the Senate is up for grabs and, as it looks right now, Republicans stand a better than even chance of taking back the upper chamber.

But a new poll finds that Reid could be in big trouble if he seeks reelection in 2016. Not only is he very unpopular in his home state, Reid trails Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), who get solid marks from voters, by a 10-point margin:

According to a Harper Polling survey, Reid trails popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, who hasn’t ruled out challenging the incumbent, by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the poll’s findings on his website, ralstonreports.com.

Reid’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the poll is significantly underwater (41 percent/55 percent). Sandoval’s rating, on the other hand, is stellar (58/30).

Sandoval is a virtual shoo-in to win reelection this year; he leads little-known Democrat Bob Goodman in the Harper poll, 54 percent to 39 percent.

Obviously, the 2016 election is more than two years away. That’s an eternity in politics, so be very careful in taking away too much from this poll. Yeah, Reid is in trouble, but anything can happen. What’s more, Sandoval is generally viewed as a moderate. He’s done some things in Nevada that haven’t sat well with in-state conservatives.

Nevada-based conservative activist Chuck Muth, for example, has taken Sandoval to task over his tax increases and his decision to operate a state Obamacare Exchange and expand Medicaid. Although he’s popular with Nevada voters, Sandoval isn’t that highly regarded among national conservative movement activists.

Establishment Republicans won’t think twice in backing Sandoval, should he run. The question conservatives are going to have to ask themselves is this: Is backing a big government Republican who can beat Harry Reid worth the time and effort?

If all you care about is politics, the answer is “yes.” If you want to stand on principle, then probably not, or, as they have on the ballot in Nevada, “none of the above.” Some may hold their nose and vote for Sandoval, but if he doesn’t do something fire up the base in the next couple of years, his record may come back to haunt him.

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