Ah, the wages of pork:

The good news for Senator Ben Nelson is that he doesn’t have to face Nebraska voters until 2012.

If Governor Dave Heineman challenges Nelson for the Senate job, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that Heineman would get 61% of the vote while Nelson would get just 30%.

The health care vote is clearly dragging Nelson’s numbers down. Just 17% of Nebrasaka voters approve of the deal their Senator made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote. Overall, 64% oppose the health care legislation, including 53% who are Strongly Opposed. Fifty-six percent (56%) believe that passage of the legislation will hurt the quality of care and 62% believe it will raise costs.

If Nelson votes to block final passage of the health care plan, he would still trail Heineman but be in a much more competitive situation.

When survey respondents were asked how they would vote in Nelson blocks health care reform, 47% still pick Heneman while 37% would vote to keep Nelson in office.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer flip-flopper.  Most Nebraskans appear to agree.  Despite getting hundreds of millions of dollars for his home state in a grubby deal with Harry Reid for his vote on ObamaCare, 55% of Nebraskans disapprove of Nelson’s performance, with only 40% approving.  Interestingly, that number remains exactly the same among men and women.  It’s almost as bad with independents (54%), and every age demographic has a majority disapproving of Nelson.

Here’s an interesting internal: among those uninsured, 62% disapprove of Nelson after his vote on ObamaCare.  In fact, fewer uninsured approve of Nelson (37%) than insured (39%).

Heineman, on the other hand, is a mirror of Nelson’s discontent.  Disapproval doesn’t get above 34% in any age bracket, and remarkably is at 0% among 18-29 year old voters, and only 4% among thirtysomethings.  Even Democrats like him, 44%/40%, while independents approve of Heineman 67%/26%.

Such are the wages of pork, and of selling out.  Nelson won’t have to answer for it until 2012, but he may want to rethink that vote on its next pass through the Senate.

Update: Reader AJF dropped me a note to inform me that I had misspelled the tagline on this post, and that it should read “just deserts.”  I almost sent a message arguing the point but decided to check it out first.  I would have thought that an etymology buff like myself would have heard this one before now:

The noun “desert” (accent on the first syllable) is generally used to refer to an arid, barren expanse of land; the noun “dessert” (accent on the second syllable) is a sweet course or dish usually served at the end of a meal. However, the word “desert” — when spelled like the former but pronounced like the latter — also refers to a deserved reward or punishment. Therefore, someone who does wrong and is punished in a suitable manner has received his “just deserts.”

Many people, unfamiliar with the “reward or punishment” meaning of the word “desert,” mistakenly assume that the phrase “just deserts” is properly spelled “just desserts” because of its pronunciation. (The usual reasoning is that a dessert is a type of reward one is given at the end of a meal, so someone who receives suitable rewards or punishments for his actions has gotten his “just desserts.”)

When one gets what one deserves, good or bad, one is getting one’s “just deserts,” accent on the second syllable but spelled like the arid, barren lands.

Thanks for the tip, AJ! I’ve fixed the tagline.