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Tester’s Looking Good Early

Via Matt Singer, some good news for Senator Tester from Public Policy Polling headed into his re-election campaign: despite the strong Republican trend in Montana, he’s still seen quite favorably by Montana voters:

Tester posts a 50-40 job performance mark, putting him in the top ten among the senators PPP has measured this year. That is particularly impressive, considering that Republicans outnumber Democrats by nine points in this sample, and even independents are more prevalent.

In a hypothetical matchup with Denny Rehberg, Tester is close, at 46-48, and he has a lead over Steve Daines at 48-37.

Daines supporters will probably try to spin this as positive news, but I find it hard to believe that Montana voters will come to like Daines more as they learn more about him, no matter how many campaign laws he breaks in the process of becoming acquainted with them.

Senator Tester’s going to face a tough challenge in 2012 and he’s occasionally disappointed some of us on the left, but it’s encouraging that he seems largely to have escaped the displeasure directed at Senator Baucus by maintaining pretty close adherence to the values that got him elected in the first place.

As a side note, the continuing popularity of Marc Racicot has to be encouraging for Governor Schweitzer’s future aspirations, given that Schweitzer has actually been an effective leader of the state.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • These are decent numbers for Jon. He's got work to do. The flip-side is that Rehberg's numbers are surprisingly weak. Rehberg's favorability is only 49-37, despite not having had real opposition in ten years. He's only got a 78% approval rating among Republicans and is below 50 among independents.

    Meanwhile, he is surprisingly well-liked among Democrats. His numbers honestly have nowhere to go but down.

    • Matt – you surprise me.

      Denny pulled between 57% of the vote and 66% of the vote depending on precinct, so if this poll shows Denny's favorability at 49% it really oversampled Dems.

  • Yeah, I don't see Rehberg doing it unless he has some very different data in front of him.

    It'll be interesting to see if Daines or whomever can muster enough Tea Party cred to avoid an independent challenge, too.

  • I don't believe that a Tester/Rehberg matchup will happen – but if the election were held today Tester would do no better than Dennis McDonald.

    (Unless of course, all those Dems who voted for Rehberg two weeks ago were to change their votes – LOL)

    • That's an odd prediction, in that it ignores the polling data and assumes that an ex mob lawyer turned wealthy rancher who scarcely campaigned will do as well as a popular senator who obviously has strong independent support (because there is no way half of Montanans are Democrats. And Coobs, as an expert on Montana politics, you should know that as a state we have more than simply Republicans and Democrats and that even many party members are loathe to go straight party lines all the time. Moreover, you assume that most people who were eligible to vote, voted, and that ability to energize a base has no effect (Denny is not exactly electric, and if riding a horse is the best McDonald can do for himself, I think Tester drum up a slightly better result).

      Lastly, the txt speak is a little nwbish, don't you think?

      • Nope – this is the blogosphere – all language is acceptable –

        I stand by my reasoning, and I'll give you my reasons for that –

        I think that Montana is basically 40% Dem – 40% GOP, and about 20% who don't commit.

        This last election showed us just how low the numbers on the tried and true Dems have fallen – 34%.

        The Dems have already helped the GOP by keeping Pelosi/Reid.

        So if the Obama economy is still here, and Jon Tester is still the same 'Yes Man' to Harry Reid, and the GOP fields a good non-Kelleher candidate, Tester pulls 34% of the vote. He'll be easier to attack, because in the ads people can hear him lie with his own voice.

        2012 can be a really good year.

        We can toss out another 1/3 of Senate Dems, and hopefully replace The Great Leader.

        And the best thing about it is that Obama is doing all the work.

        • Except that Tester already got elected, so clearly in addition to the 40% of Montanans who are Democrats, he got at least 12% of independents. That would suggest that he can pull in more than half of all independents. That would make sense – those 17% of Montanans who generally favor Democrats but voted for Rehberg are probably independents who voted for the name they recognized and not for the horse-riding but otherwise silent Democrat.

          But you make two bigger logical errors. 1. Overall voter turnout is at least important as the breakdown of people who did vote. So if 34% of Montanans voted against Rehberg, that means many didn't see the need to go through the trouble of voting for a doomed candidate, and were also pleased with their county coroner and so stayed home. If Rehberg looks to unseat a popular candidate, you can bet turnout will be different and so the overall composition of voters will be very different.

          2. Bigger assumption – you assume that the Bush Economy will continue, ignoring the fact that our economy since Bush is currently adding jobs and growing. So if things merely continue this same trend, Americans will be substantially better off than they are now.

  • I noticed that the Public Policy Polling group polled on a Tester/Racicot race. Why the hell would they do that? Racicot has been busy lining his pockets as a DC lobbyist, and has had little or nothing to do with Montana politics for over a decade. On the other hand, even though Racicot left office with decent ratings, I wouldn't mind seeing a Tester/Racicot contest. Folks just need to be reminded of the Racicot/George W. Bush connection; and Racicot's role as a lobbyist for Enron, the insurance industry and Burlington Northern Sante Fe; and overseeing the deregulation of Montana Power; and his failure to acknowledge the asbestos poisoning in his hometown of Libby; and … well, you get the picture.

  • Pete- they have a blog where they ask for reader's suggestions on who and what to ask. Lots of idiots who know how to use Wikipedia but know nothing about MT politics suggested Racicot, so they polled him.

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