Jon Bruning is the clear front runner for the Republican nomination for US Senate in Nebraska. He wins 47% in the primary to 19% for Don Stenberg, 7% for Pat Flynn, and 6% for Deb Fischer.
What's most noteworthy about Bruning's lead, in comparison to a lot of the primary polling we're doing right now, is that it's not just based on superior name recognition. 69% of Republican voters know enough about him to have an opinion and Stenberg is almost just as well known at 64% who have an opinion about him. GOP voters in the state generally know both of them already and they simply would rather have Bruning as the candidate.
57% of primary voters have a favorable opinion of Bruning to only 12% with a negative one and 50% view Stenberg positively to 14% who have an unfavorable opinion of him. Fischer at 24% name recognition and Flynn at 16% are largely unknown at this point.
There's a pile up when it comes to who Republicans in the state would like to have as their Presidential nominee next year. Mike Huckabee leads the way at 21% but the rest of the pack is not far behind with Sarah Palin at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 18%, and Mitt Romney at 15%. Leading the second tier is Ron Paul with 8%, followed by Tim Pawlenty at 4%, John Thune at 3%, and Mitch Daniels at 1%.
A few observations from these numbers:
-They reflect how limited the national profile for both Thune and Pawlenty still is at this point. Thune's right next door to Nebraska and Pawlenty isn't much further away but neither appears to have made much of an impression on Republican voters in the state yet.
-Romney's winning the state's urban 2nd Congressional District, which contains Omaha, but is a distant fourth place in both the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts. That shows some definite weakness for him in rural areas, reinforced by our recent polling in places like West Virginia and Montana. That's another voter bloc he's going to need to step his game up with in order to win the nomination.
Huckabee's been ahead pretty much everywhere we've polled in the last couple months but for the next few states we will release that's not the case- stay tuned.
Full results here