Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is getting heat from all sides these days.
But who really has the most influence on The Benator?
President Obama and his tanking personal ratings?
Harry Reid and his tanking Health Care re-form bill?
Or is it Nebraska voters (and their Pro-Life tendencies)?
Well, pollsters The Tarrance Group asked 500 "likely" Nebraska voters these and other questions recently.
Here are Nelson's Favorable ratings:
Compare that to:
Dave Heineman:(ya hear that Mike Boyle?)
Mike JohannsAnd that doesn't even seem so bad until you hear a couple of other questions:
Favorable: 66% (yow!)
Approve or disapprove of the way Ben Nelson is handling his job as Senator?Ouch!
Then there's this:
"In general, do you favor or oppose President Obama’s plan to expand health care coverage to most Americans even if this plan increases the role of the federal government in health care and increases the cost of the deficit?"A bit of a loaded question, maybe, but look at this follow-up:
"If Senator Ben Nelson votes in favor of this plan, would that make you more likely or less likely to support Senator Nelson when he runs for re-election?"Sixty-one percent?!
More likely: 26%
Less Likely: 61%
Now THAT will give Nelson some pause.
(See more about the survey results in a story here and a fuller and downloadable version of the poll at a new-ish link here.)
So what do we take from this, and Nelson's recent back-tracking on his commitments to a filibuster of the Senate Health Care re-form bill?
Well, first, it would seem that Nelson has pretty much married himself to the Stupak version of the anti-abortion amendment. Anything less, and he's going to vote against the bill (and cloture). At least that's the way he has pushed it.
But what if the pro-Choice forces give in, and allow Stupak language to stay in?
Would Nelson then vote for the bill?
Why, after all else he's said?
Well, he's received serious pressure from pretty much every Democrat to push it through. He won't be crazy about being THE Democrat pariah in the USA.
Our thought is that if Nelson can get the abortion language he wants, he can claim victory, then try to sell the rest to Nebraskans.
And if he can't sell it? And the writing is on the wall from likely voters?
Well, he'll be 71 years old in 2012. And maybe he can kick back on the turkey ranch and watch the Platte go by, with frequent visits to his old Hill haunts. Life could be worse, right?
But with his very recent hedging on the bill with "gosh, people are going bankrupt if I don't do SOMETHING", it leads us to believe he is planning a turn.
Could Nelson recover from voting for a bill that Nebraskans seem to hate?
Well, the polls seem to say, no.
But then, 2012 is a LONNNNGGGG way off. Lots can happen.
And Nelson may be willing to roll the dice.
Btw, Senator McConnell sums up our feelings on the process of the bill here.