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.