Widely considered to be a vulnerable incumbent going into next year's mid-term election, Blanche Lincoln is facing a serious scenario with regard to her favorability rating. According to a new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll, nearly half of the 600 likely voters polled said they had an unfavorable impression of Lincoln.
The poll shows Lincoln beating the two strongest Republicans by 7-8%. While that may seem like good news, it's important to note that at least 75% percent of the respondents had "no opinion" of the named Republican challengers, suggesting that Lincoln's lead is soft and likely a product of name recognition.
It's not going to be easy for southern Democrats in 2010. Nobody knows this better than Lincoln, which may explain her recent change of heart about the public option, calling it "another entitlement program [that] we can’t afford as a nation right now."
While some of her Democratic colleagues may frown over these remarks, her newly found opposition to the public option (alongside Republicans) may be the best medicine for her ailing poll numbers. One could argue that her recent comments have already helped. A PPP poll that was released prior to Lincoln's statement showed her statistically even with Republicans. That poll too, however, revealed strong displeasure by voters, with just 36% showing approval for her job as a senator.
Notably, another Research 2000 poll from yesterday, found that 55% of voters in Arkansas support a public option, while just 38% oppose.
With more than a year to go before Election Day 2010, Republicans have plenty of time to make their candidate(s) known. For now, it appears that Lincoln's name recognition alone is enough to give her an edge. But that cannot last. Looking ahead, we will be listening to Lincoln's message to voters - not only about healthcare during this legislative session but also on other issues like energy (cap and trade) which is bound to come up next year.