Tuesday, July 18, 2006

'Can't Buy Me Love' - 50% of Nebraskans Don't Like Pete Ricketts

by Kyle Michaelis
Public opinion can be funny and unpredictable - especially in politics as Election Day draws near. Voters can be fickle, and their moods can be erratic. But if there's one kiss of death from which there is no making a comeback, it's when the voters just don't like you.

Such seems to be the case with Pete Ricketts, who - for all the money in the world and all the advertising that money can buy - has so far completely failed to to get Nebraskans to like him, let alone vote for him over a popular incumbent like Ben Nelson.

The latest polling by the highly-respected and non-partisan Rasmussen Reports, released yesterday, shows Ricketts with a near-fatal disapproval rating of 50%. 27% of Nebraskans claimed to have a "very unfavorable" impression of Ricketts, with another 23% claiming a "somewhat unfavorable" impression.

Ouch! It's one thing, at this stage in an election, when a lot of voters haven't made up their mind about you. These summer months generally promise plenty of time to get your name out there and win the people over. But, when half the state has already made up their mind that they don't like you, that's a heck of a blow right out of the gate.

Ricketts has to be asking himself where he's gone wrong with numbers like this. After spending almost $6 million of his own money on the race and running TV ads since November of last year, it's got to be quite the shock to see such a huge personal rejection as his only pay-off.

And, what's saddest, is that things are only getting worse for Ricketts. In a head-to-head match-up with incumbent Sen. Ben Nelson, Nelson now leads 57-31%. That's a 3% swing in votes for Nelson over his already impressive 54% showing the previous two months. What has to be even more disheartening for Ricketts, however, is the fact that his anemic 31% shows a drop-off in support of 5% since April.

How's that for money well spent? That's really not the direction any campaign wants to be heading.

Of course, when Nelson has a 78% approval rating with Nebraska voters - including 79% favorability with Nebraska Republicans, more than 20% higher than that for their party's own candidate - it's pretty easy to see why things stand as they do.

Nebraskans know Ben Nelson. They trust Ben Nelson. Most importantly, they like Ben Nelson.

After millions of dollars spent, the same can't be said of Pete Ricketts. People know who he is - they know what kind of campaign he's running - and a lot of them clearly don't like what they've seen.

From what's transpired these last two months - the false advertising, the scare tactics, Ricketts' proposed tax hike on 95% of Nebraskans - who, honestly, can blame them?


Blogger Dave said...

The same poll gives us bad - but not unexpected - news for Hahn. Heineman holds a 66-21 lead. A major problem, though certainly not his only one, is that 66% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Dave Heineman. Lack of press is certainly a problem, but I fear for the strength of our party when someone like Heineman is given a free pass by a majority of Democrats in this state.

Anonymous randy said...

this is what puzzled me about the add the ndp ran. i didn't have a problem with it's content, in fact, i thought it was a funny little poke. that said, nelson's well over 50%. why even acknowledge this putzs' existence? i haven't seen any nelson spots that have been anything other than about nelson. has he taken on Ricketts? your point was well taken. these numbers just make me wonder what the point was...other than it might have been fun.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


That's probably an even stronger argument against the aforementioned Ricketts poem than the one I made. While we can't afford to be complacent in Nebraska, it's generally accepted that negative advertising is not a sign of strength. With polling numbers like this, you do have to wonder why Nebraska Democrats would run the risk of taking such a personal shot at Ricketts....even if it is all in good fun.

Of course, there's something to be said for making sure that when a man's down he's not going to get up again - especially with that Republican registration advantage always lingering in the distance.

But, if those are really the voters the NDP was after, I think a more straight-forward and less whimsical approach would have been more effective.

Who knows? I might just need to lighten up.


Do you have to be such a downer? Aren't I generally pessimistic and contrarian enough as is? At least, I got a few minutes of online bliss before you rained on my parade.

Maybe you need to lighten up as well.

Blogger Dave said...

Sorry, Kyle. At least we can have some faith that Nebraskans see through Pete Ricketts' readily transparent bullshit. I just wish that panderers got the same treatment from our state's voters as outright liars and hypocrites.


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