When I was in Washington DC two weeks ago for the CQ/Roll Call 2010 election preview panel hosted by Taegan Goddard of Political Wire (video here) I said I thought Blanche Lincoln was the most likely Senator up for reelection next year to lose and certainly today's polls from Research 2000 and Rasmussen further confirm that feeling.
Lincoln's numbers at this point may even be worse than they look. When we polled AR-2 a couple weeks ago we found her trailing Gilbert Baker 43-38. But among undecideds 58% had an unfavorable opinion of her with only 11% viewing her favorably! Most of those folks are predisposed to vote against her but don't know any of her potential Republican opponents well enough yet to commit to supporting them at this point. If the eventual nominee establishes himself as a credible alternative he will get most of those votes.
I can't really counsel Lincoln to move to the left to win over the undecided voters either. 44% of them think Congressional Democrats are too liberal to only 12% who think they're too conservative. 52% of them said they opposed the health care plan the House passed last month with only 37% in support.
I can't counsel her to move to the right though either. Already her approval rating within her own party is 43% and although she gets 71% of the Democratic vote against Baker anyway (with 20% of her support coming from people who disapprove of her job performance) she's not going to be able to count on those folks to get out and vote next year if they become any more disenchanted with her.
Lincoln's got the same problem Bev Perdue does in North Carolina: the conservatives think she's a liberal, the liberals don't, and the moderates don't know what to think. For her to get reelected next year it's going to take the best campaign in the country, or more likely an implosion of massive proportions by her eventual opponent. If there was an election this month I think she would lose by double digits...but November 2010 is still a ways off.