Poll: Sasse closing gap on Osborn in Senate race

According to a newly released poll, Midland University President Ben Sasse has nearly closed the gap on Shane Osborn in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Mike Johanns.

The Harper Polling numbers show Osborn leading with 30.44 percent of support among likely Republican primary voters, and Sasse coming in second with 29.03 percent. Osborn’s lead is within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. “Not sure” came in third with 23.19 percent of the vote. Bank executive Sid Dinsdale was fourth with 13.10 percent and attorney Bart McLeay was fifth with 4.25 percent.

Even more interesting, the poll shows that Attorney General Jon Bruning would jump to the lead in the governor’s race if he were to enter. Bruning would take 35 percent of the likely voters, compared with Pete Ricketts’ 16 percent, according to the Harper Poll.

The poll shows a huge leap in popularity for Sasse. A poll conducted by the Osborn campaign in October, showed the former Navy pilot with a commanding lead over the field. Osborn came in with 39 percent. Sasse and Dinsdale trailed with 7 percent and McLeay had 1 percent.

The newest poll was sponsored by the blog Conservative Intelligence Briefing. It contacted 565 likely Republican primary voters. Harper Polling conducts interactive voice-response polls, also known as robo-polls, which are generally considered less accurate than polls conducted with human interviewers. Many news organizations consider them so unreliable that they do not report the results of robo-polls.

One problem with robo-polls is that they are usually programmed only to call phones on land lines, which Americans have abandoned in large numbers. Democrats have used robo-polls for years, and Republicans have recently turned to them because live interview polls ahead of the 2012 presidential election turned out to be disastrously wrong. They are also much cheaper to conduct than live polls.

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