Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a new Montana Senate 2012 poll yesterday that got the juices flowing in the Montana political world.
In the probable 2012 Senate matchup, Congressman Denny Rehberg (R) leads Senator Jon Tester (D) 47% to 45% in the poll that “surveyed 819 Montana voters from June 16 to 19. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.4%.” The undecided number was 8%. So this race is virtually tied.
By the way, PPP states in their press release that they are a “Democratic polling company…” You can read the whole press release HERE (PDF).
In February 2011, a NSON poll had Rehberg leading 47%-44%. In March 2011, a Lee Newspaper poll had Tester leading 46%-45%. Back in November 2010, Rehberg lead Tester 48-46 in another poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.
Approve and Disapprove:
Tester has a performance approval rating of 51% and 39% disapprove. Rehberg’s is 44% approve and 45 disapprove. By the way, Max Baucus’ performance approval rating is just 41% and 50% disapprove which means several people from both political parties are licking their chops in anticipation of 2014 when Baucus may or may not run for re-election.
MT Senate 2012: Where is the battle?
Each candidate can take something good from this poll. They should both be worried, too. Both Tester and Rehberg have strong support from the base, so the battle will be who can get Independent votes. According to this poll, Jon Tester is winning the Independent votes 51-36 percent – but he is still losing the overall poll by two points. By the way, the poll leaned to right with 39% of those polled leaning GOP and 31% to Democrats – so Tester can take something good from that – and also that Rehberg’s negatives are pretty high.
Rehberg, on the other hand, aligned himself to the far right with the Tea Party. In some GOP races candidates do this to win the primary, so we may see Rehberg try to become more “independent” after the primary or when he feels it’s too late for some other right-leaning candidate to come on board to challenge him.
We’ll hear about Jon Tester “being in Barack Obama’s back pocket” and in the same sentence “Harry Reid” and/or “Nancy Pelosi” will be mentioned. On the other hand, we’ll hear about the “millionaire” named “Dennis” Rehberg and how “he filed a lawsuit against the firefighters.” Throw in some “Rehberg wanting to do away with Medicare” and you have the blueprint for the campaigns during the next 15 months.
Those are the things that get voters’ attention – and luring the Independent voters to their camp is the most important thing for Tester and Rehberg to accomplish.
Back in March I wrote,
The biggest thing that Rehberg and his team need to remember is that they should not be measuring for the drapes just yet – this race is shaping up to be the toughest race for Rehberg in a decade.
And to be fair, the biggest thing that Tester and his team need to remember is that he won his last race by only 3562 votes and failed to carry his home county – where people know him best…
So although this is a new poll, things are just about the same…except we are closer to judgment day…