PPP's first three polls on the Montana Senate race found the same thing every time: a 2 point lead for Denny Rehberg. Over the last six months though there's been a shift and Jon Tester now leads Rehberg by a 48-43 margin.
Tester's moved into the lead because of shifts with Democrats and independents. What was an 86-10 lead with Democrats is now 90-7. He's been able to consolidate his base some. And although he already led independents by a 46-41 margin he's pushed that advantage up further to 48-36.
Montanans are closely divided in their feelings about Tester with 46% approving of him to 43% who disapprove. Rehberg continues to have upside down approval numbers in our polling. This time around 39% of voters give him good marks while 49% disapprove.
The GOP's trouble with women is showing itself in this contest. Rehberg is up by a point with men but that is more than offset by Tester's 51-41 advantage with women. There is also a pretty significant generational gap in the contest with Rehberg up 9 with seniors but losing all of the younger age groups to Tester.
It's hard to imagine this race ever straying too far from toss up status but the trendline is encouraging for Tester given what our other polls had found.
Gillan is the modest early favorite to win the Democratic nomination. She's at 21% to 13% for Diane Smith, 11% for Wilmer, 9% for Dave Strohmaier, 4% for Sam Rankin, 1% for Rob Stutz, and 0% for Jason Ward. Just like in the general election match ups though the big winner is undecided- 41% don't yet know how they'll vote.
Full results here