A new Rasmussen poll finds that Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) could be seriously vulnerable in 2010 -- but only if the GOP manages to get just the right candidate to oppose him, third-term Republican Gov. John Hoeven.
When Dorgan is tested against Duane Sand, a Navy veteran who has previously run unsuccessfully for the Senate and the House, Dorgan leads by 52%-37%. But if Hoeven were the GOP candidate, Dorgan would trail by a 58%-36% margin.
Hoeven has previously declined a Senate run. The GOP tried to recruit him to run against Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad in the 2006 cycle, but he didn't make the race. Earlier this year, he said he would decide on a Senate run by September -- which has obviously passed already. But if he were to get in, he would start as the frontrunner.
From the pollster's analysis: "Along with Hoeven's popularity in the state, Dorgan has to contend with President Obama's unpopularity. John McCain carried North Dakota over Obama 53% to 45%, and now just 41% approve of how the president is doing his job. Fifty-eight percent (58%) disapprove."