Public Policy Polling last week released a hypothetical match-up for the 2014 senate race. The poll, which included lots of "would"s and "if"s, pitted Sen. Max Baucus against Gov. Brian Schweitzer in the Democratic primary and found Schweitzer would trounce the six-term senior senator 51 to 34.
Rumors of a 2014 bout between Schweitzer and Baucus have run 'round the mill for more than a year. Never mind that Schweitzer dismissed the notion last summer when he told Chuck Johnson of Lee Enterprises' state bureau, "I have no interest in being in the United States Senate."
With the 2012 senate and gubernatorial races in Montana getting hotter every week, speculation about 2014 seems more like a fun distraction than a forecast.
And we think we can top this latest poll with our own hypothetical match-ups.
Pundits posit that Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier is a tad too liberal to win his bid for the U.S. Congress. That leaves us dreaming of a race between Strohmaier and former University of Montana law professor, perennial right wing gadfly and Tea Party darling Rob Natelson in the 2013 Missoula mayoral election. They've tangled peripherally at least once before. Two months after council passed a law introduced by Strohmaier and councilperson Stacy Rye making it illegal to discriminate against gay or transgender people, Natelson maligned the law's passage online. He called it bad for business and took a jab at "cross-dressers and similar oddballs."
Rep. Denny Rehberg has been criticized for his political decisions not just by those across the aisle but from within his party's ranks. He's raised the Tea Party banner constantly. But Montana Shrugged co-founder Eric Olsen took Rehberg to task this spring for opposing a budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that included drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Should Tester hold strong against Rehberg next year, we'd be tickled to see a 2014 Republican primary clash between Rehberg and Olsen. It'd certainly give Olsen a chance to blast anti-earmark Rehberg for proposing $9.6 million in pork barrel spending this year.
Why stop ourselves there? Looking ahead to 2016, could we hope to see a gubernatorial race pitting David Letterman against Ted Turner? What about Michael Keaton against Huey Lewis? Or, wait: Connie Chung takes on Maury Povich! Seriously: why should pollsters have all the fun?