Every poll released so far on the 2012 Nebraska Senate race has shown Ben Nelson in deep trouble and our numbers are no exception. Nelson trails Attorney General Jon Bruning 50-39 in a hypothetical contest and Treasurer Don Stenberg by a 45-41 margin.
It's not hard to peg the reason for Nelson's precarious situation: you need to have a lot of appeal to Republicans if you're going to win as a Democrat in Nebraska, and while Nelson had that in the past he doesn't seem to anymore. The 2006 exit poll showed him winning a pretty remarkable 42% of the GOP vote. Now his approval rating with Republicans is down at 26%, and he gets just 17% of their votes against Bruning and 16% against Stenberg. Nelson actually has a 9 point advantage with independents over Bruning and a 17 point one over Stenberg but that's not enough given his lack of crossover support in the heavily GOP leaning state.
Nelson's situation has drawn a lot of comparisons to Blanche Lincoln's but he's not in quite as bad a position as she found herself in a year ago at this time. Nelson does at least lead a couple of lower profile candidates. He's up 42-35 on state Senator Deb Fischer and 42-33 against conservative activist Pat Flynn. Lincoln was trailing no matter who you tested her against at this point in February 2010. And Nelson's approval numbers, although certainly bad at a 39/50 spread, are a good deal better than Lincoln's were at 27/62. He may not have a lot of hope for a comeback but his odds are better than hers were.
Part of Nelson's problem beyond his own unpopularity is that both Bruning and Stenberg are relatively well liked. 42% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Bruning to just 26% with a negative one and for Stenberg it's 38% rating him positively while 25% have an unfavorable opinion of him. It's going to be a very tough road for Democrats to hold onto this seat.
Full results here