The Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released a survey Tuesday showing Sen. Ben Nelson trailing two Republicans, state Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer Don Stenberg, in another sign that the Nebraska Democrat’s 2012 re-election campaign is in trouble.
Nelson is the only Democrat in the Nebraska delegation, and many consider him to be the most vulnerable Senator up for re-election in 2012. Roll Call Politics rates this race a Tossup.
Bruning jumped into the race against Nelson within days of the November midterm elections, and he led the Senator 50 percent to 39 percent in the poll.
Stenberg hasn’t made a decision about the Senate race yet, but he was statistically tied with Nelson in the poll, getting 45 percent to Nelson’s 41 percent. He was the Republican nominee against Nelson in 2000, and the Democrat won that race with 51 percent of the vote.
Nelson also trailed Bruning and Stenberg in a December poll by Republican firm Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies.
The incumbent would beat the two lesser-known Republicans whom PPP tested, Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer, and he dodged a bullet in November when popular Republican Gov. Dave Heineman announced he wouldn’t run for Senate.
PPP surveyed 977 Nebraska voters on Jan. 26 and 27, and the poll had a margin of error of 3.1 points.
Nelson’s approval ratings are dangerously low, and PPP noted that it’s because there are so many registered Republicans in Nebraska. Only 39 percent approve of his job performance, while 50 percent disapprove. In contrast, 59 percent approve and 28 percent disapprove of the performance of fellow Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R).