A new poll released by PPP on Tuesday dealt a major blow to former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who has seen his favorability ratings in Nebraska plummet since the fall and now trails his Republican opponents by double digits. In the race for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, Kerrey is behind the Republican front-runner, Attorney General Jon Bruning, by a 54-37 margin and trails even the weakest Republican in the field, State Sen. Deb Fischer, by ten points.
After Nelson announced he would not seek re-election, Nebraska and national Democrats urged Kerrey to run in hopes of holding onto the seat and the Democratic majority in the Senate. Kerrey, who became president of The New School in New York after giving up his seat, rejected a run at first, before changing his mind in late February.
Ironically, the Nebraska Republican Party had attempted to keep an apparently weak Kerrey off of the ballot, claiming that he was ineligible to vote in the state. "Bob Kerrey resorted to New York-style political tricks, filing at the 11th hour and preventing Nebraska election officials and courts from having sufficient time under Nebraska law to determine whether he's a legitimate candidate," Nebraska GOP chair Mark Fahleson told the Lincoln Journal Star.
The state's Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Kerrey was eligible to remain in the race. But with Kerrey's favorability rating at only 36 percent both overall and among independents, Nebraska Democrats may not be excited for the news.
PPP pointed out that a Democratic candidate must attract independent and Republican votes to win in the state. With his low ratings among both groups, Kerrey is doing neither. "Jon Bruning's chances of being Nebraska's next Senator are looking pretty darn good," PPP wrote.