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Reid Vows to Stay in Race Despite Poor Poll Numbers

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Dec. 24: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walks with Sens. Christopher Dodd and Max Baucus after the Senate approved President Obama's health care bill on Capitol Hill. (Reuters)

After hitting a new low in a state poll, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed speculation that he would pull a Dodd -- and follow in the footsteps of Democratic colleague Christopher Dodd, who announced his retirement this week in the face of a losing re-election bid.

"I am absolutely running for re-election," the Nevada Democrat told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which commissioned a new poll that found more than half of Nevadans are unhappy with his performance.

"These are difficult times for Nevada and as the majority leader of the Senate, I have been able to take action to address those challenges," he said Friday in a statement. "But I know there is more work to do to turn our state's economy around and create jobs and I am committed to seeing it through."

Reid's troubles continued on Saturday, when he was forced to apologize for private remarks reported in a new book in which he described Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who would benefit from his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

"I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments," he said in the statement. "I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama during the campaign and have worked as hard as I can to advance President Obama's legislative agenda."

Running for re-election is no guarantee that Reid won't join Dodd in watching the action from the sidelines next year: If the poll data holds, Reid's days in the Senate are numbered. 

In the poll, 52 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Reid, 33 percent had a favorable view and 15 percent were neutral. That's a new low and the worst rating of the paper's 2010 election surveys. 

What's more, Reid is trailing all three potential GOP opponents. Sue Lowden, former Nevada Republican Party chairwoman, leads Reid 50 to 40 percent. Danny Tarkanian, a businessman and former UNLV basketball star, has 49 percent of the vote to Reid's 31 percent.

And most shockingly of all, Sharron Angle, a former Reno assemblywoman and virtual unknown, is beating Reid 45 percent to 40 percent. The poll shows 42 percent of respondents don't know her.

If Reid loses, it would be the second time in recent years that a Democratic majority leader failed to get re-elected. In 2004, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle lost his re-election bid in South Dakota.  Prior to that, the feat of unseating a majority leader hadn't happened since 1952, when Arizona Republican Barry Goldwater beat Senate Majority Leader Ernest McFarland, D-Ariz.

The numbers come on the heels of the retirement announcements of two long-serving Senate Democrats, Dodd in Connecticut and Byron Dorgan in North Dakota.

The Democrats now have a 60-vote "supermajority" in the Senate, and if the party loses any of that edge, it could make it much tougher to pass Obama's ambitious agenda.

The GOP is particularly hopeful about winning the North Dakota Senate seat, with popular Republican Governor John Hoeven likely to announce his intent to run in the next two weeks.

Political observers note that the election is 10 months away, and a lot can happen between now and then.

Click here to read the Review-Journal story.

Fox News' Kimberly Schwandt and FoxNews.com's Stephen Clark contributed to this report.