A day before Sen. Ben Nelson (D - NE) voted for the passage of the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill, the Nebraska Senator appeared confident before reporters that his vote would not hurt him back in Nebraska. Last week, The Washington Times asked him what he expected from his constituents, when he returned home after the Senate recessed for Christmas.:
“Well, two types[of constituents]. Those who are saying very positive things about this legislation and those that have the opposite point of view. There’s nothing new about that.”
Mr. Nelson further responded to a question about how he would characterize the response he received immediately after announcing his support of the Senate health care bill.
“It’s been just about the same. If anything our calls are probably fewer right now. We still get a lot of out of state calls, but the in-state calls are actually a smaller number in the last several days.”
According to a new Rasmussen poll released yesterday, Mr. Nelson may not have been listening closely enough to Nebraska voters. After becoming vote number sixty for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D - NV) and the rest of the Democratic caucus, Senator Nelson was widely criticized for seemingly trading his vote on the bill for a sweetheart deal, which would provide Nebraska 100 percent federal tax dollars for Medicaid funding in perpetuity. Apparently, Nebraskans are not impressed with their Senator’s knack for deal making.
While Mr. Nelson is not up for re-election until 2012, Rasmussen reports that Nebraska Republican Governor Dave Heineman would presently, nonetheless, beat Senator Nelson handily.:
If Governor Dave Heineman challenges Nelson for the Senate job, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows the Republican would get 61% of the vote while Nelson would get just 30%. Nelson was reelected to a second Senate term in 2006 with 64% of the vote.
Nelson’s health care vote is clearly dragging his numbers down. Just 17% of Nebraska voters approve of the deal their senator made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote in support of the plan. Overall, 64% oppose the health care legislation, including 53% who are Strongly Opposed. In Nebraska, opposition is even stronger than it is nationally.
Either Mr. Nelson was kidding himself the evening before he confidently told reporters that Nebraskans were barely calling his office about the health care bill, or the Senator’s staff may want to rummage through constituent phone calls again for the sake accuracy.