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Rating Drops To 42% For Ben Nelson

From the Omaha World-Herald:

Rating drops below 50% for Nelson

By Robynn Tysver

January 17, 2010

The battle over health care legislation has taken its toll on U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson’s political well-being, despite the Democrat’s efforts to sell Nebraskans on his vote.

Nelson, who once enjoyed some of the highest job performance marks in the U.S. Senate, has now seen his approval rating dip below 50 percent in Nebraska, according to The World-Herald Poll.

Nelson said the poll results come as no surprise, especially since Nebraskans have been “bombarded” with millions of dollars in “misleading advertisements.”

He said he expects that people will come to appreciate the health care bill…

“I believe that, over time, as the special interest ads subside, Nebraskans will understand the bill I support will improve their health care, because it ends the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, it reduces spiraling costs and it provides new access to coverage for 220,000 Nebraskans without health care today,” Nelson said in a written statement.

In the survey, Nelson’s job approval rating was 42 percent and his disapproval rating was 48 percent. By comparison, Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, who voted against the bill, had a 63 percent job-approval rating.

Nelson has been under fire since he supplied the 60th vote to win approval for President Barack Obama’s principal domestic policy initiative in the Senate. He was called a “sellout” at a political rally.

Critics say a controversial provision — dubbed the “Cornhusker kickback,” which would save Nebraska on Medicaid costs — was inserted in the bill to win Nelson’s vote.

Nelson on Friday asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to scratch Nebraska’s exemption and instead extend the Medicaid provision to all states.

In the past few weeks, Nelson and his allies have pushed back against the criticism.

Nelson has been aggressively arguing his case on radio shows and in meetings with newspaper editorial boards. The Nebraska Democratic Party has spent more than $350,000 on a media campaign in support of Nelson.

“It’s pretty clear he’s taken a hit,” said Randy Adkins, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Adkins said any time a politician’s disapproval rating is higher than his approval rating, he’s in trouble. He predicted that Nelson would have a tough time trying to change people’s minds on the issue, saying his research shows that most people stop listening to a political debate after forming an opinion…

The World Herald Poll was conducted Jan. 8-12 by Wiese Research Associates of Omaha. It’s based on telephone interviews with 500 registered voters. The statistical margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

It’s clear the bulk of Nebraskans’ dissatisfaction with Nelson rests with his health care vote.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they opposed the Senate health care bill. A majority said they opposed Nelson’s vote for the bill. About one-third favored his vote.

Not surprisingly, the poll results broke along party lines. Three-fourths of Republicans opposed Nelson’s vote, as did only 22 percent of Democrats.

The hit to Nelson’s political standing is something new for the veteran politician, whose career was launched in 1990 with his election as governor.

For the most part, Nelson has enjoyed the goodwill of voters, including Republicans. The two-term governor left office in 1999 with one poll showing 80 percent of Nebraskans supporting the job he had done.

He continued to keep his constituents happy during his time in the U.S. Senate. In his re-election bid in 2006, Nelson won 64 percent of the vote. That was after his opponent spent millions of dollars on television advertisements, with many of them attacking Nelson’s record.

In April 2006, Nelson was named one of the Senate’s most popular members after national pollster SurveyUSA reported that 73 percent of Nebraskans approved of his performance.

That appears to have changed — at least for the time being — in the aftermath of the health care vote. Nelson has been called the “most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in 2012” by the respected Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C.

It is nearly three years until the next Senate election in Nebraska. If Nelson decides to run, it’s debatable whether the health care vote will be a key factor.

No one knows who Nelson’s opponent will be at that time, or what the top issues of the day will be. Also unknown is whether Nebraskans will have become more comfortable with the health care legislation by then.

But at this point, the bill could haunt Nelson. A plurality of voters (44 percent) in The World-Herald Poll said his vote on health care would be counted against him if he ran again

According to the poll, Nelson took a big hit among Republicans who had supported him. Nearly half of the Republicans who said they voted for Nelson in 2006 said they did not approve of his job performance.

Andrew Liebman is one of them. Liebman said it was “unlikely” he’d vote for the Democrat again if Nelson continues to support the Senate’s health care bill as it currently stands.

Liebman, a 31-year-old Omaha tech writer, opposes the bill because he fears it will ultimately chip away at his private insurance plan. He believes it is going to cost too much.

“I like Ben Nelson. I have liked him for a really long time,” he said. “But the problem is, I like my health insurance. A lot of Nebraskans like what they have, and they’re really afraid this is going to make it so that things will change in their current health insurance.”

Liebman also has not been happy with the way Nelson has defended his vote.

Nelson has argued, among other points, that most people he talks to in Nebraska are supportive of his vote. Liebman said that whenever he hears Nelson say that, he questions whether the senator is actually listening.

“I don’t believe I’m living under a rock, and it doesn’t feel that way to me,” he said.

Is Mr. Nelson really that out of touch, or is he just a liar?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, January 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Rating Drops To 42% For Ben Nelson”

  1. Tater Salad says:

    Ben Nelson is a pure hypocrit and he will lose his re-election bid. Question: Since he is now saying that he “doesn’t want the $300 million kick-back, can he “take back his vote for healthcare”? I didn’t think so! The vote still counts which is what he wanted all along. Hypocrit !

  2. bousquem says:

    It’s amazing how bold faced the democrats can be about claiming anything that doesn’t support them and their causes, regardless of of how true the ads can be, are “misleading”. Just wait till the FCC becomes all powerful with democrats in control permanently, anything critical to them will be shut down as misleading or hate speech. Might as well rewrite the history books to suit their point of view; wait they’ve already done that and seems to be working with leading the youth of today in believing socialism and the left will fix all the world’s ills and create a utopia.

  3. proreason says:

    “Is Mr. Nelson really that out of touch, or is he just a liar?”

    The country is in a situation where the vast majority of elected officials are simply amoral, or rather, their morals are dictated by their own self-interest. They will say or do anything to feather their own nests. Some of them are probably delusional. Many are cynical. All are criminal. We call it Marxist or Fascist or Socialist of Communist, but that really isn’t the core issue. I don’t think for a second that Ben Nelson and most of his fellow con artists are the least bit politically idealogical. Their ideology is greed. Period. Now, that does make them easy to manipulate by the idealogues like the Moron, which just compounds the danger.

    When we take back the country, it won’t be enough to simply hand the keys to our safe back to the Republicans. They aren’t much better, if at all.

    There needs to be a fundamental re-education of politicians.

    A narrow election victory may be satisfying in 2010 or even 2012, but the core problem will remain.

    The victory needs to be overwhelming. I often way we should put them all in jail, but of course, that won’t happen in this country. So the electoral victory needs to be a bell that will ring for a houndred years.

    And if the turn-about by the Republicans isn’t just as overwhelming, then THEY will need to be overwhelmingly rejected in 2014.

    Nothing short of that will change the corruption and greed. And we will be dealing with this same monstrous situation in the next decade.

    • neocon mom says:

      “I don’t think for a second that Ben Nelson and most of his fellow con artists are the least bit politically idealogical.”

      I agree but they are beholden to special interests. And in the current climate too, we see them making these kinds of deals completely out in the open and even defending them publicly, as Bill Nelson did with his Florida Medicare deal which was arguably even sweeter than Ben Nelson’s Nebraska deal.

      I don’t think people of good conscience can ever rest regardless of who is in power; part of our duty is civic involvement. But I do think there is a great, big huge revolution afoot and I think liberal policy (and hope and pray, too) is reaching a “judgment day” of sorts in the hearts of Americans. I hope it will be relegated to a “lake of fire” as the Pentecostals say. It is not just going to be a refutation of liberal doctrine, but an embrace of conservative ideas.

  4. Laree says:

    Remember the Progressives Rallying Cry pass it for Ted? I do Martha Coakley can’t find ANY Kennedy coat tails.

    Obama’s speech for Coakley. Scott Brown is for The Fat Cats.

    This is a memorable FBN, Imus In The Morning commentator Dagen McDowell Quote, about what the present Government is seeking to do to US.

    You don’t want to think if you get in bed with Uncle Sam, he is going to strip you naked, chain you to the bed, leave you there…………


  5. U NO HOO says:

    “You don’t want to think if you get in bed with Uncle Sam, he is going to strip you naked, chain you to the bed, leave you there…………”

    On Seinfeld and 2 and a Half Men it is funny, but in real life…yikes!

  6. puhiawa says:

    Senators quickly assume an arrogance that transcends reality.

  7. TwilightZoned says:

    ““I don’t believe I’m living under a rock, and it doesn’t feel that way to me,” he said.”

    Of course it doesn’t feel that way. When you’ve always lived under a rock you don’t know anything different.

  8. chestnutt says:

    Ben Nelson: P.O.S.

    Your career is OVER!

    Please find rock that Newt, Ron, etc. are living under and join. Bye, Bye!

  9. BillK says:

    If you hadn’t heard, from the AP:

    Pizzeria patron says Sen. Nelson booed on way out

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A patron of an Omaha pizzeria says U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson was booed over his vote on health care reform as he was leaving the restaurant.

    Tom Lewis says the Nebraska Democrat was on his way out of Dante Pizzeria Napoletana on Friday when someone mentioned his vote. Then, he told the Associated Press, a couple booed and the woman yelled “Get him the hell out of here.”

    Lewis says Nelson didn’t respond.

    Nelson spokesman Jake Thompson says the senator did not hear any booing. Thompson says all Nelson heard was someone saying, “Bad vote.” He denies rumors that Nelson was chased from the pizzeria.


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