As The Hill reports, a newly released GOP poll shows former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) leading all Republicans if he runs for the US Senate in Montana.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) would start off with a lead against all potential GOP candidates if he runs for the Senate in Montana, according to a new survey from GOP pollster Harper Polling.
Schweitzer leads former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot (R) by 47 to 43 percent, and has a 50 to 40 percent against Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Daines has said he’s considering a run, while Racicot has remained silent on the race.
If Schweitzer decides against a bid, however, it becomes much more difficult for Democrats to hold the seat.
Oddly enough, this GOP poll directly contradicts a Democratic poll from PPP polling. Here’s a blog post I had back in February:
The conventional thinking going in to 2014 is that longtime Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) would be toast if former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) jumps into the race, and that no big name Republican would want to run against Schweitzer either. You can apparently throw that conventional wisdom out the window, as the poll also showed former Gov. Marc Racicot (R-MT) defeating Schweitzer in a hypothetical matchup. Congressional newcomer Steve Daines (R-MT) is also holding his own in a hypothetical matchup against Schweitzer.
Hats off to Alex Sakariassen with The Missoula Independent for finding this little nugget inside the latest PPP poll looking at the 2014 US Senate race in Montana:
But lost in the Schweitzer-Baucus kerfuffle was a more intriguing prediction. While PPP has Schweitzer narrowly beating newly elected U.S. Rep. Steve Daines in a hypothetical 2014 general election face-off, it appears the folksy Dem would have his hands full in a race against former Republican Montana governor Marc Racicot. PPP predicts Racicot squeaking past Schweitzer by a margin of 46 to 45.
Marnee Banks also scored an interview with Gov. Schweitzer Wednesday. She notes that Schweitzer will have “big news” in the next week or so. (National TV gig? US Senate Run? Something else?)
As a side note, here’s what The New York Times’ Nate Silver had to say about the 2014 race:
Montana. Republicans had a disappointing year in Montana in 2012, losing competitive gubernatorial and Senate elections. But the Democratic incumbent up for re-election in 2014, Senator Max Baucus, ensured that this race would be competitive once he inserted himself in the middle of the debate over Mr. Obama’s health care bill in 2009. Mr. Baucus has served Montana in the Senate since 1978, but his approval ratings are now only break even — and in general, we have found that tenure in office is a weak predictor of performance once there is more contemporary evidence about how a state’s voters feel about a candidate.
The wild card is that Mr. Baucus could plausibly be challenged in the Democratic primary by Brian Schweitzer, the state’s former governor, who ended his second term last year with good approval ratings. This is among the relatively rare cases where a successful primary challenge could actually improve a party’s chances in November.
The national news outlets jumped all over the fact that Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s own Facebook page was used to tout the new poll. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called it a “provocative move.”
Here’s a full roundup of the PPP poll coverage, given the Schweitzer intrigue, compiled by Democratic consultant Bob Brigham in Montana: