Shifting Sands - Senate - Ben Nelson

Saturday, January 14, 2006
If electoral politics were amenable to simple statistical analysis then Sen. Nelson - a Democratic Senator from a state (Nebraska) which gave Bush a 33% margin - would appear to be in trouble. If the Dems were looking for a true moderate to carry the party standard - Ben Nelson would be an excellent choice. Nelson is a former governor with not even a hint of a scandal attaching to him. His only problem is that his white line down the middle of the road positions have not garnered many faithful followers. In November he polled well ahead of the two Republicans vying to oppose him but he only averaged about 53% (he won in '00 with 51%). Nebraska is a very inexpensive state wrt elections and one of his potential opponenets, Pete Ricketts has a ton of personal money that he can use to overwhelm Nelson with advertising. Nelson received pocket change ($16,500) from the DSCC in '00 and only $22,500 to date in this cycle. Most of his money comes from labor with some substantial contributions from business.

The other potential opponent is David Kramer, who has good name recognition but does not have access to the same degree of funding that Ricketts' does.

The only interesting aspects of this race are whether a huddle in the muddle centrist incumbent can attract and hold sufficient campaign workers to be effective and whether (should Ricketts be the opponent) Nebraskans will be susceptible to a big money campaign. I would anticipate that Ricketts possesses a relatively high 'Q' rating because accession to the CEO position at a large company requires it. If the race becomes Nelson/Picketts then I would give the edge to Picketts at this point. If its Nelson/Kramer then its a u-pick-em at this point.

Steele Update: Rasmussen Reports has Steele up over either potential Dem candidate in a new survey. This race is one to keep an eye on. Even though MD gave Kerry a 13% edge in '00 it is susceptible to change. Schumer's ham handed oppo research moves do not sit well with blacks in MD - or anywhere else. Mfume as one of the potential opponents is also a help to Steele. The moderate core of black voters see Mfume for precisely what he is and will select Steele if race is their predominant deciding factor.


terrye said...

I like Nelson better than Hagel.

Steele is a very interesting fellow. It is looking good for him.

David Thomson said...

I am someone who still thinks the “Gang of 14” agreement does more good than harm. Red state Democrat elected officials cannot afford to behave like Ted Kennedy. Ben Nelson must run as a “moderate (whatever that means?).” Is that sufficient to save him? I wonder if the Daily Kos idiocy has infected a large number of the state’s Democratic voters. If it has, then Nelson is probably toast. How can he win if the hard liners refuse to go the extra mile for him? I am personally going to make it a point of visiting the Daily Kos blog during the election season. That may very well tell us all we need to know. Will Kos declare Nelson to be the lesser of evils---or will he advocate for his destruction?

Rick Ballard said...


If the Kossacks get behind him it will kill him. If the race were between him and Hagel, I'd go with Terrye's choice. Nelson is a decent man and a decent Senator. I don't see any negatives that could be used against him, I just don't think that he has a devoted following. That's what makes him vulnerable and that's why, in these times, the undifferentiated muddle is a dangerous place for a pol to park.

If Ricketts gets the nomination this race will be a contrast in energy levels, too. Nelson will be 65 by election day and Ricketts will be 41. If Ricketts hires good campaign people that differential will prove significant.