By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
Updated 3:18 p.m. Feb. 12
LINCOLN, Neb. – A new poll has the U.S. Senate race tightening considerably, with political newcomer Ben Sasse in a statistical dead heat with former State Treasurer Shane Osborn.
We’d heard someone was polling Nebraska races recently, and sure enough today the results of a new poll done by Harper Polling for the Conservative Intelligence Briefing came out. The survey of survey of 565 likely Republican Primary voters has Osborn leading the pack with 30 percent, Sasse nipping at his heels with 29 percent, Omaha banker Sid Dinsdale with 13 percent and Omaha attorney Bart McLeay with 4 percent.
Politico reports that Conservative Intelligence Briefing is owned by a Republican consulting firm that rents email lists and conducts fundraising for Republican candidates.
The blog concludes that a month of ad buys and “sympathetic conservative media attention” have pushed Sasse “from an asterisk to a close second in Nebraska’s open seat Senate race.” Sasse served as assistant health secretary under George W. Bush, but had little name recognition going into the race after returning to his hometown of Fremont in 2009 to take over a flailing Lutheran college where his father graduated and grandfather worked for 33 years.
Sasse has since made bashing Obamacare the centerpiece of his campaign and been dubbed a rising star by some conservative media outlets, being coined “Obamacare’s Nebraska Nemesis” on the cover of the National Review and being interviewed on FOX and MSNBC in one day.
The Conservative Intelligence Briefing blog said Sasse barely registered when it polled the race in June 2013, but has been “winning the fight for earned media” in recent months. He’s also been endorsed by Congressman Paul Ryan, RedState’s Erick Erickson, the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth.
Osborn’s internal polling had him with a huge lead in October, with 39 percent while Dinsdale and Sasse trailed with just 7 percent and McLeay barely registering with 1 percent.
Sasse has also led the race to raise cash, raising $1.4 million last year and ending the year with more than $1 million in cash on hand.
The poll indicates Sasse has the edge with anti-establishment-leaning voters:
54 percent of those surveyed said they support Tea Party ideals, and Sasse has a slight lead among them, leading 35 to 31 percent. Osborn has been endorsed by the Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, but leads Sasse 35 to 23 percent among those who say they do not support the Tea Party and those who are unsure.
The survey shows Sasse still has work to do to get on Nebraskans’ radar screens: he still remains unknown to 54 percent of Republican primary voters, with 31 percent viewing him favorably and 15 percent unfavorably; Osborn’s favorability rating was 54 percent, with 18 percent having an unfavorable view.
The only Democrat in the race is Omaha attorney Dave Domina. Independent cattle rancher and restaurant entrepreneur Jim Jenkins of Callaway is also running.
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