A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Arkansas shows Lincoln’s support for reelection at 38% or 39% no matter which of four potential Republican challengers she is matched against. In surveys last September and December, her support was between 39% and 41% in these match-ups.
State Senator Gilbert Baker leads Lincoln by 12, and State Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendren holds an eight-point edge over the incumbent. Curtis Coleman, a private businessman, and Tom Cox, head of the Arkansas T.E.A. Party, both lead her by 10 points. In reality, however, the numbers reflect very little about the challengers and are best viewed as a referendum on the incumbent.
The two-term senator, who was reelected with 54% of the vote in 2004, appears more vulnerable because of her visible and pivotal role in the Senate debate over health care. Lincoln was the last Democrat to vote for allowing the debate to formally begin, but she took a lower profile in the vote for final passage.
U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln on Tuesday said a political deal that benefits Nebraska and may have clinched a lawmaker's support for health care legislation should be removed from the bill.While Lincoln may have gratified Senate leadership with her support of Obamacare, the leadership isn't responsible for her election to the Senate and associated political power; the people of Arkansas are. And the radical unpopularity of the Senate's health-care reform measure damages the persuasiveness of her "moderate Democrat" brand there.
The Democratic senator from Arkansas said she was disappointed about a provision in the Senate's health care bill that will require the federal government to permanently pay the entire cost of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, while only paying the costs of expansion in the other 49 states for three years.
Conservative Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson lent his crucial support to the bill only after winning the provision for his constituents.
"The people of Arkansas didn't send me to Washington to be a horse trader," Lincoln told reporters before speaking at a Kiwanis Club luncheon in downtown Little Rock.
Lincoln did not say whether she would support a final version of the health care legislation if it included the Nebraska agreement.
Meanwhile, Jane Hamsher, perhaps as a harbinger of a left-right convergence, creates a list of those House Democrats most likely to fall as a result of their support for Obamacare.