-PPP's newest poll of the Montana Senate race finds Jon Tester with a small lead over Denny Rehberg, 45-43. Libertarian Dan Cox is polling at 8%, and 3% of voters remain undecided. This is the second survey in a row where we have found Tester with the lead. In late April he was up 48-43.
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. This is the third Senate race in the last two weeks, along with Ohio and Florida, where we've found both candidates under water. That's just the new reality with the amount of outside spending being done on negative ads.
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. This race is clearly going down to the wire. We've polled it 5 times now and they've been with 2 points of each other 4 out of those 5 times.
-Mitt Romney's the clear favorite in the Presidential race, although perhaps not by as large a margin as you would expect. He leads Barack Obama 50-45, a 5 point lead unchanged from our last poll of the state in May. 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.
Montana's a state where Gary Johnson may have a bigger impact than other places. When he's included he polls at 7% and since he pulls more from Romney than Obama he pushes Mitt's lead down to a 46-43 margin. Montana hasn't received the kind of attention it did in 2008 as a state that Obama could possibly win, but it looks like he's at least headed for a competitive loss there again this time around.
Full results here