Embattled Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) surprised many when he started gearing up for a 2012 re-election bid, amidst his sex-and-lobbying scandal. But according to a newly released PPP poll (D), Nevada’s junior senator remains popular among Republicans and is well-positioned in the state’s Republican primary.
When matched up against Rep. Dean Heller, Ensign leads 45%-37%. In a head-to-head matchup with the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Brian Krolicki, the incumbent senator holds a more significant 55%-27% advantage.
Overall, 64% of Republican respondents say they approve of the senator’s job performance, while 23% disapprove.
Of course, it’s still very, very early, and anything could happen. Jon Ralston, one of the top political journalists in Nevada, weighed in on Ensign’s future this morning, foreseeing difficulties that could thwart his re-election bid:
Nevada’s junior senator, John Ensign, may not know it, but he is a walking political corpse, soon to be indicted or willingly or forcibly retired.
I have to believe Ensign will soon become a target of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Why? Because the GOP sees a path to taking the Senate in 2012 — two-thirds of the contested seats are held by Democrats — and they don’t want to have to worry about defending their own.
The margin of error for the latest survey is ±4.9 percentage points.