MT Senate 2014: The Plot Thickens…

The fine folks at Public Policy Polling (PPP) surveyed 1,011 Montana voters for a new poll about the 2014 U.S. Senate race featuring U.S. Senator Max Baucus.  They believe the race looks “competitive.”

Baucus was pitted against what seemed like everyone in the Montana GOP except the person who cleans their Headquarters in Helena (I think).

The poll was interesting (Read it here PDF). Here are some of my thoughts:

The poll told us that Baucus has a job performance rating of 45% approve and 48% disapprove which is not too alarming to me. One thing to remember is that Baucus has spent the last few years taking a backseat to Jon Tester, Steve Daines, and Steve Bullock and the millions upon millions spent in the campaign of 2012. Baucus can spend a few thousand dollars in statewide media to tell people what he’s done lately and change those numbers quickly. Baucus is already working on this. The groups who support him are working on it, too. Money won’t be a problem because Baucus can raise money like no other politician in Montana history.

An interesting “carrot” in the poll was that Baucus loses against Congressman Steve Daines 49%-44% in the poll, so Daines will feel some pressure from his Tea Party supporters to run.  Montana Democrats would probably welcome this as it would open up the House seat once again.

Daines’ inner circle should bring him down to earth by mentioning the name, “DENNY REHBERG.” Rehberg was supposed to beat Jon Tester because Tester voted for ObamaCare and Tester voted with Obama 666% of the time (or maybe it was 95% of the time).

In a blast from the past, Baucus loses against former Governor Marc Racicot 47%-42% (Schweitzer loses to Racicot by one point) in the poll. I think Racicot probably enjoys what he is doing (and making good money at it) and would not want to be one of the hundred in the U.S. Senate. Racicot last ran for office in 1996, although he was a very successful Chairman of the Republican National Committee for the Bush Administration in 2002-2003.

The poll also shows Baucus beating Corey Stapleton (who has announced he is running) 45% -38%. Baucus beats Attorney General Tim Fox 46% – 43% and Champ Edmunds 47%-37%. These fellows lack name recognition and would need close to a million dollars in ads just to be competitive against Baucus. 80% were not sure if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Edmunds, 66% were not sure about Stapleton, and 54% were not sure about Fox.

PPP did not poll Baucus against his last toughest competitor, former Congressman Denny Rehberg, whom Baucus beat by less than 5% in 1996.  Baucus was held under 50% in the four-way race.

Like I have mentioned before, “Baucus’ biggest concern is former Governor Brian Schweitzer – the senate seat in Montana is his if he wants it.” The poll showed Schweitzer leading Baucus “54% to 35% with Democratic primary voters.

Last Saturday I received an e-mail invitation from the Friends of Max Baucus telling me that on March 9 several prominent Democrats are gathering in Helena (MT) at the Holter Museum for a reception in honor of the Senator. The special guests include, Senator Al Franken, Senator Jon Tester, Governor Steve Bullock, Nancy Keenan, Jim Messina, and Lee Saunders. Contributions to Friends of Max Baucus are $100 to $500 per person.

One of the most well-known Democrats in Montana, Brian Schweitzer, was not listed on the Friends of Max Baucus invitation. Intriguing…

Another intriguing thing about the poll is that it was posted on the Official Facebook Fan Page for Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.  The plot thickens…

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