Bachmann Surges in Oregon, Montana

Bachmann Surges in Oregon, Montana

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - June 28, 2011

Sarah Palin hasn't said whether she will run for president, and a new poll gives Michele Bachmann reason to hope that she doesn't. Without Palin in the race, the Minnesota congresswoman leads the Republican field in Oregon -- which Barack Obama won by nearly 17 percentage points in 2008 -- and in Montana, a red state with a Democratic governor.

The news comes from Public Policy Polling (D). But its survey of likely Republican voters in Oregon shows quite different results if Palin were to run: In that scenario, Bachmann leads the former Alaska governor by a small margin, 18 percent to 16 percent, but finishes second to Mitt Romney (28 percent). Ron Paul receives 9 percent support, Herman Cain takes 8 percent and Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty are tied with 6 percent. The poll brings troubling news for Jon Huntsman, who receives 0 percent support from Oregon Republicans.

If Palin opts out of the race, Bachmann barely edges Romney, 29 percent to 28 percent, in Oregon. In that scenario, Paul receives 10 percent support, Gingrich 9 percent, Cain 7 percent and Pawlenty 6 percent. Huntsman registers 2 percent.

If Palin runs, Bachmann holds a slight 24 percent to 22 percent advantage over Romney among "very conservative" voters, who make up 44 percent of the Republican electorate in Oregon, according to the poll. But without Palin, Bachmann leads Romney by an 11-point margin among the most conservative voters.

Palin has more support in Montana, where she leads Bachmann, 20 percent to 18 percent. Romney arrives closely behind Bachmann with 17 percent. Paul and Gingrich tie with 9 percent. Cain receives 8 percent, Pawlenty 7 percent and Huntsman 4 percent. But without Palin in the race, Bachmann again leads Romney, 25 percent to 22 percent. Gingrich and Pawlenty each pick up two percentage points with Palin gone, Paul gains one and support for Cain and Huntsman remains unchanged. Palin beats Bachmann among those who identify as "very conservative" in Montana, 26 percent to 22 percent. But in a primary without Palin, Bachmann wins 34 percent support from that group, who make up 39 percent of the electorate.

Palin has the highest favorability rating in Montana (72 percent) and Oregon (67 percent) of the presidential contenders. Bachmann and Romney have equal favorability ratings in Oregon (54 percent), though Romney pulls in a higher unfavorability number (30 percent) than does Bachmann (19 percent). In Montana, Bachmann edges Romney in favorability, 50 percent to 47 percent. Again, Romney's unfavorable rating is higher than Bachmann's, 36 percent to 25 percent.

Though the survey only represents two states, it suggests that Bachmann can gain momentum in Palin's absence and compete with Romney in the West. Bachmann is making stops in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina this week, and the congresswoman told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday she will wage "a 50-state campaign because I intend to be the nominee. "

PPP surveyed 382 usual Montana Republican primary voters from June 16-19, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. The poll also surveyed 262 usual Oregon Republican primary voters from June 19-21, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.1 percent.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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