A Handful of Prominent Democrats in Trouble

For over a year now, Republicans have been salivating at the ultimate trophy pickup in the Senate: unseating Majority Leader Harry Reid.

But Reid isn't the only prominent Democrat to face a tough reelection battle this year, and, after a few retirements, the Democratic caucuses could look somewhat different next year.

The Democratic caucuses could look somewhat different next year. Retirements have already been announced by Chris Dodd, the Senate Banking chairman; David Obey, the House Appropriations chairman; and Bart Gordon, the House Science and Technology chairman. Republicans are poised to win Gordon's seat in November, and Democrats are locked in tough races to replace Dodd and Obey.

Aside from those retirements, here are four prominent Democrats facing tough reelection races:

  • Harry Reid, Senate majority leader. Reid may have dodged a bullet when consummate Tea Partier Sharron Angle emerged as his opponent, but the going will not be easy, despite his huge cash advantage. Angle is still backed by conservative groups, and she released a new TV ad today tying Reid to fellow top Democrats President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. Reid leads by two percentage points according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll.
  • John Spratt, House Budget chairman. As a congressman from a Republican-leaning district, Spratt is a perennial target of the National Republican Congressional Committee, but this year he could fall victim to a Republican wave if it materializes. Republican challenger Mick Mulvaney released a poll today in May showing Spratt ahead by only two percentage points, though Spratt had more than double the cash in his war chest as of his last financial disclosures June 30. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a toss-up.
  • Barbara Boxer, Senate Environment and Public Works chairwoman. Though California voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008, Boxer faces a threat from ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina this fall. "This is very ominous for her," Field Research polling director Mark DiCammilo told the San Francisco Chronicle after a Field poll showed Boxer's approval sinking to 42 percent. Right now, polls are conflicted on Boxer's status: SurveyUSA shows her trailing by five percentage points, while a late-July Public Policy Polling survey showed her ahead by nine.
  • Ike Skelton, House Armed Services chairman. Skelton hails from a large, heavily Republican district that stretches across central and western Missouri, which he has served for 16 terms. But after voting for cap-and-trade last year, Skelton lost his long-standing endorsement from the Missouri Farm Bureau, which backed Republican state Rep. Vicki Hartzler. Skelton had more than three times Harzler's war chest in July, but the Cook Political Report rates Skelton's race as Lean Democratic, and if the Democratic agenda is as unpopular as Republicans claim it is, there's an outside chance Skelton will fall prey to a GOP wave.