Nebraska voters are very upset about the IRS and Department of Justice scandals, according to a new Conservative Intelligence poll of the state conducted by Harper Polling.
Seventy-six percent of likely Nebraska voters believe the IRS workers who targeted conservatives should be fired and/or face legal consequences, the poll shows. And 54 percent said the scandal makes them less likely “to vote for a Senate candidate who supports the Obama Administration.” Seventy-one percent are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the IRS’s ability to enforce Obamacare. Meanwhile, 59 percent agree that the Justice Department employees involved in authorizing the monitoring of reporters’ emails should be fired.
Whichever Republican becomes the nominee will likely begin as the favorite – the GOP enjoys a 50 to 35 percent generic ballot advantage. Nebraskans are also sour on President Obama and give him low marks for his job performance — 35% of likely voters approve and 56% (including 21 percent of Democrats) disapprove.
The Senate race in Nebraska got a bit more interesting recently when popular Republican Gov. Dave Heineman decided not to run. This could create a crowded GOP primary field, and it gives Democrats at least a slight glimmer of hope. But our poll suggests the Dems have an uphill battle — pretty much any Republican starts off in the lead (we tested five hypothetical matchups).
With a large number of candidates considering or at least not completely ruling out bids for Senate, no one really dominates the GOP field at this point. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has a 12-point lead over the pack, probably based on name recognition for his office and his 2012 Senate bid. He has seen his image take a hit (net negative approval rating of 28 percent positive and 36 percent negative), as the FEC has just imposed a $19,000 fine on him from his last Senate race. Bruning called a Senate run “unlikely” back in March. But if he were to get in, he would begin with 29 percent..
Former Treasurer Shane Osborn, who is widely expected to run, comes in second at 17 percent, and has the highest favorability in the field at 33 percent positive and 15 percent negative. Pete Ricketts, former COO of Ameritrade and the 2006 Senate nominee, gets 12 percent and the others are in the single digits.
On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Kim Robak would begin a primary with a slight lead at 19 percent — clustered about six points back are Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook, and state Sen. Steve Lathrop.
Full details on the poll’s finding, including favorability for each candidate and crosstabs for each party’s primary sample — are available here.