Montana Senate Poll

Conducted: April 27-28, 2013
Respondents: 771
Margin of Error:  +/-3.53%

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National issues threaten Schweitzer's small lead

As expected, former Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer holds an early 4% lead over his nearest competitor in the race to fill the seat of retiring Senator Max Baucus. That's where the good news ends for Schweitzer.

Montanans prefer to fill Baucus' seat with a Republican as opposed to a Democrat by a margin of 42% to 34%.  Republicans fair better among at women at +10% than among men at +4%.

The national issue environment being driven by Washington opens up several fronts of vulnerability for Schweitzer. The debate over budget priorities between the two political parties spells trouble for Schweitzer. The Republicans' priority of a balanced budget beats the Democrats' priority of stopping Medicare cuts by a wide margin of 53% to 31%.  Even Montana seniors pick balancing the budget over stopping cuts to Medicare by a 50% to 32% spread.

The push by national Democrats to pass tough new gun control laws also puts Schweitzer in a difficult position. Only 33% of Montanans believe our current gun control law are too weak.  Fifty-two percent of self-described Moderate voters say current gun laws are either too strict or about right.
As the full implementation of President Obama's health care law nears, a full 66% believe it should either by delayed (17%) or stopped all together (49%).  Independent/Third Party voters display even stronger opposition to Obamacare as only 17% want its implementation to proceed.

Schweitzer's vulnerability on health care is not limited to Obamacare, which he has been critical of at times but not opposed to. The bigger problem for Schweitzer is his vocal support for a single-payer health care system. It is here that Schweitzer is most out of step with the voters of his state as only 29% support the concept.
Lastly, Schweitzer's support for President Obama would prove to be a complication in 2014 should he choose to run. Montana voters give President Obama poor marks with 36% approving of his job performance and 54% disapproving.

Candidate Image Ratings

Schweitzer enjoys near universal name identification (98%) and a strong image rating with 54% saying they have a favorable opinion of him while 37% hold an unfavorable opinion. 
The top two potential Republican challengers, former Governor Marc Racicot and Congressman Steve Daines, also boast solid image ratings with voters: Racicot (45% favorable, 30% unfavorable) and Daines (41% favorable, 26% unfavorable).

General Election Match-ups

Primary Election Match-ups