Montanans, get used to hearing the phrases "toss up" and "neck and neck" between now and Election Day.
Public Policy Polling has released new polling results for the big seats up for grabs, and every race is close.
In the Montana Senate race—one of the most closely watched races in the country—PPP gives Democratic Sen. Jon Tester a 45-43 advantage over U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Republican challenger.
Montana voters aren't actually happy with the job Tester's doing. The negative ads have taken a toll and only 46% of voters approve of him to 48% who disapprove. But Rehberg's even more unpopular with just 42% of voters happy with the job he's doing in the House to 52% who disapprove...Both candidates have their party base pretty much locked up—Tester's winning 89% of Democrats and Rehberg has 88% of Republicans behind him. Tipping the balance to Tester overall is a 41-33 advantage with independents.
In the race for Rehberg's House seat, Republican Steve Daines holds a narrow 40-37 lead over Democrat Kim Gillan. PPP found that likely voters barely know these two candidates. When voters were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Daines and Gillan, 56 percent were unsure about Daines, a Bozeman businessman, and 59 percent were unsure about Gillan, a veteran state legislator from Billings.
The poll also found that Republican Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama 50-45.
Mitt Romney's the clear favorite in the Presidential race, although perhaps not by as large a margin as you would expect...Obama is quite unpopular in Montana, with only 44% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove. But Romney doesn't lead by a wider margin because he isn't very popular in his own right either—47% of voters rate him favorably to 48% with a negative opinion.
A separate PPP poll found that in the Montana governor's race, Democrat Steve Bullock, the state attorney general, has a 44-39 lead over Republican Rick Hill.
Montanans have a much more positive opinion of Bullock than they do of Hill. 43% of voters see him favorably to 27% with an unfavorable opinion. Bullock's name recognition has increased by 25 points since our last poll and he's gone from a +13 spread to at a +16 one. Hill meanwhile continues to be unpopular with 32% of voters rating him positively and 39% holding a negative opinion.
The second poll also includes these nuggets: Gov. Schweitzer would edge Sen. Max Baucus in a hypothetical 2014 Senate race, 53 percent of Montana voters support the "corporations are not people" ballot initiative, and 46 percent favor the state's medical marijuana reform law passed by the 2011 legislature, compared to 29 percent who are against it and 24 percent who aren't sure. More details on that poll here.