5.18.2008

Sunday polls: A tough road ahead for Scott Kleeb

Once upon a time, Nebraska was among the most vulnerable Republican seats, ranked fourth on my October rankings. But that was before former Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey and Omaha mayor Mike Fahey announced they would not run for the seat left open by Chuck Hagel. Instead, in their primary last week Nebraska Democrats settled on Scott Kleeb, a young candidate who is very popular with the grassroots and the netroots. Republicans convinced their first choice, former Governor Mike Johanns, to jump in the race, setting up an unbalanced fight in which Republicans are heavily favored to prevail.

This is confirmed by a new Rasmussen poll that shows Johanns clearly ahead, Kleeb could give Republicans headaches if he really does everything right in the next few months:

  • In the first poll from Nebraska's Senate race, Johanns leads Kleeb 55% to 40%.
  • Johanns has a strong approval rating -- 65% (including 27% very favorable versus 56% for Kleeb (17% very favorable).
This does not warrant calling the race competitive, and Democrats have many opportunities that rank much higher, but I suspect the DCCC will at least push Johanns a little. When is the next time they will have a shot at this seat, after all? Kleeb's coming in at 40% is a strong enough showing to be built upon. After all, Kerry only got 33% in Nebraska in 2004. Rasmussen also polled the presidential race and found Obama surpassing Kerry's total as well:

  • John McCain leads Obama 50% to 39%. Clinton trails by a larger 57% to 34%.
  • McCain is viewed favorably by 61% of voters, Obama by 49% -- suggesting that he would have trouble getting that much closer to the Republican.
Nebraska is one of two states that awards its electoral votes by congressional districts. The second congressional district could potentially fall in the Democratic column if Obama holds his statewide margin around 11%. In 2004, Bush's winning margin in the second district was 11% smaller than his statewide lead.

Finally, the Minnesota Star Tribune released a new poll of the MN presidential race, bringing great news to Democrats in a state the GOP believes it can contest:

  • Obama leads against McCain 51% to 38%. Clinton is ahead 49% to 40%.
Note that the two events Minnesota Republicans are counting on to wrestle this state away from the Democratic column -- McCain picking Governor Pawlenty as VP and the GOP convention in the Twin Cities -- will not impact the race for many more months. Until now, both sides have reason to believe in their chances in this state: MN has not voted for a Republican at the presidential level since 1972 but the state has becoming increasingly purple in the past few cycles, with Kerry and Gore posting two narrow victories.

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2 Comments:

  • I think its funny that adding Pawlenty will make MN competitive for the GOP. He never won the majority of the votes in either of his elections, he won a plurality of 44 and 46%. Its one of the most consistant Democratic states, and it should be even more with Obama as the nominee.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 18 May, 2008 16:16  

  • Yeah I agree with you anonymous 16:16. I think Pawlenty's approval rating is around 50%, which is decent but not outstanding. If Pawlenty helps McCain on the ticket, it will be by being fairly young to balance McCain's age and pretty conservative to assure consevative GOPs that they can vote for McCain. As it stands, even popular governors don't help deliever states as VP in these days, so there is no way average Pawlenty could do it.

    The convention in MN will probably give McCain a boost in national polls, as conventions often do, but probably not in MN specfically. Obama does have his weakneses in the east, but in the middle and on the pacfic he is stronger. IMO McCain would have had a better chance of winning MN if he was going against Clinton than Obama.

    One the Nebraska race, it seems pretty safe for Johanns. 40% is awfully strong for a second tier candidate like Scott Kleeb against a well known incumbent. However I don't think if there is much that the DSCC can do to really shake Johanns but this race is probably the most "competive" among the safe races in my mind.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 18 May, 2008 16:38  

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