Oh my: Deb Fischer leads Bob Kerrey by 18 points in Nebraska

Granted, it’s a deep red state, but I’m surprised regardless. Kerrey served two terms in the Senate and another as governor so his name recognition is sky high; Fischer, meanwhile, was a distant third in the primary race behind Bruning and Stenberg as of just a few weeks ago. Can an almost total upstart crush one of the most successful Democrats in recent state history?

Apparently, yeah:

State Senator Deb Fischer holds an 18-point lead over Democrat Bob Kerrey in the first Rasmussen Reports survey of the Nebraska U.S. Senate race since her upset win in last week’s state Republican primary.

A new telephone survey of Likely Voters in Nebraska shows Fischer with 56% support to 38% for Kerrey who is trying to reclaim the Senate seat he retired from in 2001. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

The question mark with all insurgent primary winners after Angle and O’Donnell is whether they’ll make so many unforced errors on the trail that voters will decide they’re too risky to roll the dice on. Richard Mourdock seems unlikely to have that problem; he already holds statewide office as Indiana’s treasurer and, from what I’ve read, operates as a seasoned pol. According to Michael Warren of the Standard, Fischer’s unlikely to have problems either:

During an April 7 debate in Omaha, Fischer, a two-term member of the Nebraska legislature, introduced herself with a list of her legislative achievements. Among those accomplishments were a highway funding bill that Fischer said “recognized that infrastructure is a priority and a responsibility of a limited government.”

In that same debate, Fischer reiterated her support for repealing Obamacare, but added that as an alternative, Republicans ought to pursue a number of policies—tort reform, insurance portability—to lower health care costs…

Fischer appears responsible with her rhetoric, too. Responding to one question about impeaching federal officials who are violating the Constitution, Fischer sat patiently while another candidate spoke at length about the need for Congress to exercise its impeachment powers more frequently. Then, during her answer, she began by saying that as a U.S. senator she would have an obligation to investigate if officials had violated the law. But she said talk of impeachment needed to be measured and responsible.

“It’s easy to sit here and say, yes, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. These are serious issues, and these are heavy issues,” Fischer continued, recounting her experience with impeachment proceedings in the Nebraska legislature. “You need to be thoughtful about it, and you need to have the information available.”

“You need to be thoughtful about it” is not an approach that’s going to lose you an 18-point lead. In fact, I’m eager now to see how much money the DSCC is willing to invest in Nebraska in hopes of stealing the seat. Superficially, they’ve got a good bet there. If their midwestern incumbents like McCaskill and Tester are going down, why not gamble on a proven winner like Bob Kerrey against a tea-party upstart who’s spent just seven years in government? The answer: This poll. If they can’t find something with which to demagogue Fischer as an “extremist,” they’ve got virtually no argument. And given how successful Palin’s endorsement was before the primary, I’m guessing the inevitable “Sarah Palin supports her!!” attack ad won’t do much to help. Exit quotation via National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar: “Take a close look at the scoreboard: A well-respected senator suffering a historic primary loss, a once-popular former four-term governor being rebuked by party activists, a Republican establishment favorite losing despite a significant organizational advantage, and another one at serious risk of being defeated. If the tea party hasn’t already won, I don’t know what victory looks like.”

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