Barack Obama came close to pulling an upset victory in Montana in 2008, but it doesn't look like he'll be able to repeat his strong performance there next year. Only 39% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing to 56% who disapprove, and he trails all of his GOP opponents by margins ranging from 2-10 points.
Obama's troubles in Montana are indicative of his broader issues with white voters. He's fallen a lot further with white voters than either African Americans or Hispanics so in states with pretty much all white populations like Montana, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Wisconsin he's doing a lot worse relative to 2008 than in states like North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia that have more diverse electorates.
Obama's doing very poorly with independents, only 36% of whom approve of him while 57% disapprove. And Republicans (93%) are far more united in their disapproval of him than Democrats (81%) are in their approval.
There's not a huge electability gap in Montana between the two Republican front runners. Mitt Romney leads Obama by 10 points at 50-40 and Newt Gingrich has an 8 point advantage at 50-42. Ron Paul matches Gingrich's 8 point lead at 48-40 and this is yet another state where he's the strongest candidates with independents, leading Obama 50-35 with them.
What's maybe most striking about Obama's fall in Montana is that he's even trailing Rick Perry and Herman Cain, who he's dominating in head to heads in most states. It doesn't look like Montana would fall into the Democratic column even if the GOP nominated one of it weakest candidates. Obama trails Perry by 3 points at 46-43 and Cain by 2 points at 45-43.
Montana is not part of any sort of path to reelection for Obama but it has more action down ballot than just about any other state in the country, with a hotly contested Senate race and open seats for Governor and House. His poor numbers probably have more implications for Democrats in those races than they do for his own reelection prospects. Jon Tester is more popular than Denny Rehberg and Steve Bullock is more popular than Rick Hill but neither of them is leading in their race (Gubernatorial numbers out Monday.) That has a lot to do with Montana's Republican lean to begin with, but if Obama's approval continues to be under 40% in the state it's just going to make things that much harder for them.
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