As Nelson's would-be challengers duke it out for the Republican Party's nomination, he has to feel pretty good about receiving a 68% approval rating in February, a new personal best. With numbers like that in an election year, it's pretty clear that whoever wins the right to take on Nelson is going to have a hard time getting any real fire under his campaign. At the end of the day, regardless of political affiliation, voters tend to stick with a guy they like.....and Nebraskans like Ben Nelson. Hell, some downright love him because he's plain-spoken, honest, and more concerned about getting things done than playing political games.
Nelson's remarkable showing puts him tied with three other Democrats as the 7th most popular Senator in the nation. As such, he is one of seven Democrats holding spots in the top ten (note, on the other hand, that Republicans hold 14 of the 18 worst approval ratings in the Senate).
While Nelson scored big, it was more of the same for Hagel, who has shown no real movement one way or the other since polling began last spring. Still, his 59% approval rating was good enough to rank him at the tail end of the Senate's upper-third. So, for all the protests by hardcore Republican activists about Hagel's outspoken criticism of the Bush Administration's foreign policy, it seems Hagel can pretty well rely on the core supporters he's got and should continue to demand some measure of accountibility from this White House that has made an art of shifting blame and disregarding the facts.
But, enough about that. The day is Sen. Nelson's. With the election coming up, his numbers seem cause for celebration...even if Nebraska's Republican registration advantage leaves one hesitant to ever take anything for granted. Nelson's been able to overcome that disadvantage at the ballot box, and here's proof that he continues to do so in voters' hearts. No matter where he falls in ones subjective notions of what a true Democrat should be, I feel confident joining with the rest of the state in the opinion that this man is a great representative and a true asset to the people of Nebraska.