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« Another Close NC Poll | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Outplay, Outwit, Outlast »

Schweitzer, Baucus Look Safe

Two years after one of the closest Senate contests in the nation, polls conducted for one of Montana's top news agencies shows Governor Brian Schweitzer and Senator Max Baucus, both Democrats, are likely safe this coming November. Democrats don't get all the good news, though; the same survey showed Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg in good position to cruise to his fifth term.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon for Lee Newspapers, surveyed 625 likely voters between 5/19-21 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Schweitzer was matched up with State Senator Roy Brown, Baucus with State Rep. Mike Lange and and engineer Kirk Bushman, and Rehberg was paired with attorney Jim Hunt and 2006 libertarian candidate Mike Fellows.

General Election Matchup
Schweitzer....55
Brown............30

Baucus...........65
Lange.............26

Baucus...........61
Bushman........26

Rehberg.........52
Hunt................20
Fellows............5

The news for challengers is not good. Baucus' name identification is at 99%, while Rehberg, a two-time Lieutenant Governor who narrowly lost to Baucus in 1996, is known by 98% of Montanans. Schweitzer, meanwhile, is viewed favorably by 52% of the state's voters, while 22% see him unfavorably. Brown's favorable rating is at just 21%, while 15% see him unfavorably.

Montanans may be targeted by an initial advertising blitz from Barack Obama if the likely Democratic nominee thinks he can seriously expand the presidential playing field westward. Whether Montana voters will actually cast ballots for the Democratic presidential ticket remains to be seen, but if they don't, the Big Sky State will have to wait until junior Senator Jon Tester runs for re-election in 2012 to see an interesting contest.