PPP's newest Montana poll finds that if the top tier candidates for each party get into the Senate race, it will be a toss up.
Three candidates rise to the top in our polling: Brian Schweitzer on the Democratic side and Marc Racicot and Steve Daines on the Republican side. And any match up involving those three candidates would be a toss up. Schweitzer leads Daines 48/45, but trails Racicot by a single point at 47/46. Schweitzer overcomes the GOP lean of the state by leading both of them (Daines 50/39 and Racicot 46/41) with independents. He also has the highest favorability rating of any of the potential candidates at 54/40, followed by Racicot at 43/37, and Daines' approval of 41/33.
Schweitzer would blow both of the Republicans we tested other than Daines and Racicot out of the water. He would have a 52/37 lead over Champ Edmunds and a 52/38 one over Corey Stapleton. Likewise Daines and Racicot would both have substantial leads over the potential Democrats we tested besides Schweitzer- Daines leads Denise Juneau 48/38 and Monica Lindeen 49/37 in hypothetical contests, while Racicot leads Juneau 52/37 and Lindeen 52/35 in head to heads.
When it comes to who Republicans want as their candidate next year, Racicot leads the way at 47% to 28% for Daines with Stapleton and Edmunds way behind at 5% each. Racicot leads Daines by wide margins with both moderate (55/18) and 'somewhat conservative' (53/24) voters, while it's considerably tighter with 'very conservative' voters (39/36). That suggests some potential vulnerability on the right for Racicot in a primary if he does indeed end up deciding to get into the race.
There's a lot of uncertainty in the Montana Senate race right now but these numbers make it clear that if the big boys do eventually get into the race, it's at least going to start out as a toss up.
Full results here