Tuesday was a big day for political junkies like me. Readers may remember that on April 27, I mentioned in the “Caught My Eye” column that I had taken part in a poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) about several political races in Montana. Since that PPP poll, there have been at least two other polling firms call my home – it’s getting busy in the polling world!
Tuesday afternoon PPP released the results for the U.S. Senate and the Montana At-Large U.S. House races and although others may give their thoughts about the results, The Western Word will give you the truly independent analysis that you deserve and won’t find anywhere else!
U.S. House 2012 Montana At-Large: Who?
Still the biggest obstacle for the folks running for the U.S. House seat is that nobody knows them. When asked, “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of (the candidate)” Republican Steve Daines, Democrat Kim Gillan, and Democrat Franke Wilmer all had “Not Sure” percentages in the 70-80% area with head to head match-ups showing undecided voters around 40%.
Republican Daines has to be considered a favorite after this poll as he has the money in the bank to become known.
For the Democrats in the U.S. House primary, the glass has to be “half-full” as there are still 41% of the voters who are undecided – enough for anyone to win the primary although those in the lower half may need to throw a haymaker or two to get noticed. Note to the Democratic House candidates: Maybe now would be a good time to start being aggressive in your campaigning by throwing a haymaker or two…
Rob Stutz seems to be the only Democrat I’ve noticed going after Republican Steve Daines – but he does not appear to be getting much traction, yet. His work will ultimately help the Democrats when they face Daines in the General Election this November.
U.S. Senate 2012: Don’t Measure the Drapes Just Yet
The first thing I thought about when I read the newest Public Policy Polling results about the Jon Tester/Denny Rehberg race was that I won’t be getting one of those e-mails from Erik Iverson (Rehberg’s Campaign Manager) saying “this is the sixth voter survey in a row to show Denny in the lead.” That’s because in the latest poll, Jon Tester now leads Rehberg by five points – 48-43 – which is outside the margin of error and a seven point difference from the last PPP poll. There are just 9% undecided.
Here’s the big thing to look at – Rehberg is losing ground to Tester with Independent voters by 12 points. The second biggest thing for Rehberg to worry about is he is sitting at 49% disapproval in his job performance and only 39% approve of the job Rehberg is doing. Tester has a 46% approval of his job performance and 43% disapprove. These last two things, in my humble opinion, are where this race is turning and giving momentum to Tester.
I think Rehberg’s close alignment with the Tea Party is hurting him with Independent voters and may ultimately lead to him losing the race if he does not move to the center a little more to get the Independents. On the other hand, Tester seems to come across as the more moderate candidate and that is showing in his gaining support from the Independent voters – and he is cornering the all-important Veterans vote in the state with two recent television ads.
These results have to feel like a punch in the stomach to the Team Rehberg. Meanwhile Team Tester is like the little engine that could (more like a big diesel locomotive), plugging away and now passing Rehberg. But now will Team Tester let the cockiness of leading in a pre-primary poll go to their head and end up losing this lead?
The Tester Campaign’s Communications Director, Aaron Murphy, sent an e-mail to bloggers and reporters last night putting it all in perspective saying, “As you may know, we don’t place a ton of value in public polls. We know Montana is a unique state and automated polls rarely reflect exactly what Montanans are thinking.” He did go on to say that the five point lead happened after Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and other third-party groups dropped over $2 million in Montana for ads against Tester.
Murphy did remind us in the media of one very important thing – and one thing that should give Team Rehberg some more sleepless nights – this poll was a head to head poll. There will be two Libertarian candidates on the ballot come November who will mostly take votes from Rehberg.
Now back to cockiness! Cockiness does cause people to turn away from candidates and this appears to be happening to Rehberg. His decline in the polls, especially in the job performance area, may have started where I thought it would – with the telling of the “drunk boating” joke at the Montana Rural Water Systems Convention in Great Falls on February 23.
Several GOP-leaning and Independent friends have been telling me that the Rehberg team (both official and campaign) seem very arrogant lately and are “measuring the drapes” at Tester’s offices in preparation for what they think is a certain victory.
Here’s some free campaign advice that would probably cost Rehberg a few thousand dollars if his consultants gave it: Put away the tape measure and back away from the drapes, circle the wagons, fire some people, and get down to grassroots campaign work (and watch what jokes you tell).
These races are far from decided and the polls just give us a snapshot of the feelings of those being polled at that particular time. These polls also show trends. They also wake people up. As we get into spring, we’ll see campaigns opening offices in some of the major cities and more door-to-door visits from the candidates and volunteers – our phones will ring and our mailboxes will be stuffed with fliers from the candidates and outside groups. There will be more staff hires and staff firings.
The June primary ballots will be mailed very soon. The day after the June 5 primary, several candidates and their staffers will wake up with broken hearts and dreams. Now is the time to prevent that from happening – it’s time to “leave it all on the field” and get busy.
Campaigns: Don’t be left out! Please add The Western Word to your media/press contact lists. Send your press releases and statements to me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the life and times of Jack (the Blogger) Brown on Twitter @TheWesternWord – your friends do!