Our Poll* Shows Close Race for Senate in Montana

These Green Party respondents should in no way be taken as a representative sample of Green Party voters in Montana. This is a tiny group. They are worth analyzing only for the extremely unusual and limited purpose of evaluating whether these particular 19 humans would have broken overwhelmingly for one candidate or another had we not named the Green Party candidate in the poll.

Some may wonder how a Senate race in Montana could be so close. After all, Mr. Trump won the state by 20 points in 2016. But Democrats successfully recruited Mr. Bullock, the state’s governor since 2013, who remains highly popular with voters even after his failed 2020 presidential run. His favorability rating is 53 percent (41 percent unfavorable), while just 48 percent had a favorable view of Mr. Daines, the incumbent Republican senator, and 44 percent held an unfavorable view.

Mr. Daines is counting on the state’s rightward lean to help overcome Mr. Bullock’s personal popularity. By a margin of 50 percent to 42 percent, Montanans in our survey say they prefer that Republicans control the U.S. Senate, and they back President Trump over Joe Biden by a similar margin of 49 percent to 42 percent.

The survey was conducted before the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, and Mr. Daines can hope that the state’s Republican lean will prove even more important during an intense battle for the direction of the court.

With half of the respondents saying they prefer Republican control of the Senate, Mr. Bullock might find it hard to hit 50 percent. Already, 96 percent of self-described Democrats in the state support him, versus 2 percent who don’t (with 1 percent undecided). As a result, the respondents who don’t back a major-party candidate seem to be relatively favorable to the Republicans. They identify as Republicans rather than Democrats by a margin of 30 percent to 5 percent, support Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden by a margin of 37 percent to 20 percent, and prefer Republican to Democratic control of the Senate by a margin of 40 percent to 21 percent. In each case, the undecided voters are less favorable to Mr. Bullock than the state as a whole.

That said, the undecided group has a far more favorable view of Mr. Bullock, who has a minus-two favorability rating with the group, than of Mr. Daines, who has a minus-22 rating.

Kathleen Williams, the Democrat running for U.S. House, faces a similar challenge among undecided voters. She has high name recognition and favorability among Democrats after her surprisingly strong run for the House in 2018. She claims a lead of 44 percent versus 41 percent for Matt Rosendale in the survey (while 2 percent goes to the Green Party candidate who is not on the ballot). But here again, the Democrat stands at just 44 percent with only 1 percent of Democrats still undecided. The path from here to victory could be difficult.


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