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Johanns Leads Kos Poll

Democrats have gotten so much good news lately, whether it's encouraging poll numbers out of Mississippi, North Carolina or even Kentucky, that their luck was bound to change. While the party once had high hopes for former Senator Chuck Hagel's seat, a new poll conducted for the liberal DailyKos shows Democrats have a mountain to overcome before they can win in Nebraska.

The survey, conducted 5/19-21 by Research 2000, polled 600 likely voters around the state for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Republican Mike Johanns, the former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and Nebraska Governor, and 2006 congressional candidate Scott Kleeb, the Democratic nominee, were tested. Party ID breakdown: 33% Democratic, 47% Republican, 20% independent.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Johanns.....58 / 19 / 86 / 56 / 61 / 55 (-1 from last, 11/14)
Kleeb..........31 / 65 / 7 / 32 / 30 / 32 (+3)

Johanns starts off with a significant name recognition advantage. 61% of likely voters in the state have a favorable impression of their former governor, while 27% view him unfavorably. Kleeb is known by just about half the state; 33% view him favorably while 16% don't care much for him.

The Republican also has more money in the bank. Through the April 23 pre-primary reporting period, Johanns had nearly $1.36 million in the bank while Kleeb kept $243,000 in reserve. Kleeb beat businessman Tony Raimondo by an unexpectedly wide 69%-25% margin in the May 13 primary, while Johanns had little opposition in his own contest.

While national Republicans have had limited success in recruiting top-notch candidates this year, the party convinced Johanns to leave the Cabinet to return home and make a bid, landing what is probably their best candidate of the cycle. Democrats originally tried to recruit former Senator Bob Kerrey, now the president of The New School, a New York university. Kerrey demurred, and Kleeb, who attracted netroots attention in his Congressional race last year, stepped up.

Despite respectable fundraising on Kleeb's part, though, Johanns remains a heavy favorite to keep Hagel's seat in Republican hands.