A new Rasmussen poll of Nebraska finds that Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on the health care bill has put him in a tough spot in his deep-red state. In a test poll for his re-election campaign -- which won't happen until 2012 -- Nelson trails Republican Gov. Dave Heineman by a two-to-one margin.
The numbers: Heineman 61%, Nelson 30%, and 4% "other." From the pollster's analysis: "Nelson's health care vote is clearly dragging his numbers down. Just 17% of Nebraska voters approve of the deal their senator made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote in support of the plan. Overall, 64% oppose the health care legislation, including 53% who are strongly opposed. In Nebraska, opposition is even stronger than it is nationally."
If Nelson were to now block the health care deal, though, he would still trail: Heineman 47%, Nelson 37%, plus 10% "other." In this case, Heineman would lose about a quarter of his voters to the Nelson or undecided column. But on the other hand, Nelson would also lose votes from the left, with some Democratic voters now wanting a third-party option.
The silver lining for Nelson, in the middle of all this controversy, is that he won't be on the ballot again until 2012. At that point, the politics of the health care debate will have changed in some fashion, and things could potentially improve for him -- they certainly can't get much worse.