Public Policy Polling — a Demoratic-leaning polling company — says Attorney General Jon Bruning may face a primary challenge in his quest for the U.S. Senate next year, but right now he’s got a big advantage over all the other possible Republicans who might run.
According to their polling in January, Bruning is the favorite of 47 percent of Nebraska’s GOP primary voters, far ahead of another heavy hitter, State Treasurer Don Stenberg, at 19 percent, with two virtual unknowns, state Sen. Deb Fischer and activist Pat Flynn, at only 7 percent and 6 percent respectively.
The pollsters said race is 10 points closer among the 31 percent of voters who think of themselves as ideologically moderate, with Bruning holding only a 38-20 lead, but his 51 percent with the two-thirds conservative supermajority assures his dominance overall.
A pretty large 20 percent are undecided, slightly more among moderates than conservatives, and these fence-sitters could shift the race in Stenberg’s direction if he mounts a strong campaign, PPP said.
The race so far is mostly a reflection of name recognition. While Bruning and Stenberg are almost equally well known and well liked, no more Republicans are aware of Fischer or Flynn than Nebraskans at large: 84 percent have no opinion of Flynn and 76 percent of Fischer.
“What’s noteworthy here is that Bruning is well ahead of Stenberg even though they have comparable name recognition,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters know both of them and they like Bruning more.”
In the presidential primary, the current top four finishers are in a statistical tie, with Mike Huckabee barely edging out Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney, 21-19-18-15, with 12 percent undecided, 8 percent for Ron Paul, 4 percent for Tim Pawlenty, 3 percent for South Dakota’s John Thune and 1 percent for Mitch Daniels. The race could not be any more up in the air.
Unlike in other states, Romney does not post a lead with moderates here, but he does show his typical weakness with conservatives. Huckabee has insignificant leads with both groups.
Palin would be a point behind President Obama in the general election, while the other three frontrunners would put the perennially red state out of reach.
PPP surveyed 519 usual Nebraska Republican primary voters on January 26-27.
The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percent.