MT: GOP Up, But Senate Pattern Persists

A new Big Sky Country poll gives Republicans some favorable numbers, but a pattern seen in other Senate races is again present.

Public Opinion Strategies tested the Montana electorate (6/11-13; 500 MT likely general election voters; live interview) and found both former President Donald Trump and Governor Greg Gianforte enjoying large leads over their Democratic opponents, while US Senate candidate Tim Sheehy (R) and Sen. Jon Tester (D) are tied.

According to the ballot test results, Mr. Trump leads President Joe Biden, 50-32%, and 57-37% when respondents confirm they are leaning to one candidate or the other. Gov. Gianforte leads his Democratic opponent, former gun industry executive turned gun control activist Ryan Busse, by a 38-24% definite voter margin and 54-33% when those leaning to either man are included.

Retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Sheehy trails Sen. Tester 39-36% on the definite US Senate vote, while the two are tied at 46% apiece when leaners are added to the aggregate total.

The POS pollsters divided the possible support category into two segments, those who say they will “probably” vote for one of the candidates, and another entitled “leaning.”

In the Senate race, while 39% say they are “definitely” supporting Sen. Tester, another 7% say they will “probably” vote for him. No one said they are “leaning” toward Tester. For Mr. Sheehy, 36% say “definitely,” another 8% say they will “probably” vote for him, and an additional 2% confirm that they are “leaning,” his way. Thus, when all of the definite and possible responses are added, we see that both men attract a fragile 46 percent support factor.

In the presidential race where Montana appears poised to perform as one of Donald Trump’s best states, we see a definite majority vote response of 50% for the former President. Another 5% say they will probably vote for him while 2% more lean toward Trump. This contrasts with only 32% saying they will definitely support President Biden, with 4% more saying they will probably vote for him, and just 1% leaning his way. Therefore, the fragile support margin translates into a 20 point advantage for Mr. Trump, 57-37%.

In the Senate race, the pattern present in other states where the Republican Senate candidate is running behind Mr. Trump’s standing, is also present in Montana. The net flip gap factor here is 11 points when comparing both Republican candidates’ aggregate support figure (Trump 57%; Sheehy 46%). In the Montana case, however, because Trump’s lead is so large, the drop-off still keeps Sheehy in the competitive range of victory even though his flip deficit is one of the largest of any Republican Senate challenger.

According to the latest polling, a survey series of some key Senate races from Emerson College conducted during the June 13-18 period, the Democratic incumbents all lead their Republican challenger even though Mr. Trump holds an edge over President Biden within the same polling samples.

In Nevada, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) holds a 12 point lead over Afghan War veteran Sam Brown* (R) with him at 38 percent. The former President tops the current President by three points at 42% support. This means the drop-off between he and Brown is 4 percentage points in terms of the Republican support factor, but a flip of 15 points when looking at the Republican gap in the Senate race (Trump +3; Brown -12).

In Pennsylvania, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) posts a 47-41% advantage over Republican David McCormick (R) according to the Emerson data. Before the same PA registered voter sample, Mr. Trump leads President Joe Biden by three percentage points at 45%. Therefore, McCormick is four points below Trump with a net flip deficit of nine points (Trump +3; McCormick -6).

The pattern is also present in Wisconsin, but with a smaller difference. Here, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) leads businessman Eric Hovde (R) by just two percentage points (46-44%) – her worst showing of any recent poll – while Trump holds similar 44-42% edge over Biden. Messrs. Trump and Hovde both score 44% support, meaning the flip gap is just four (Trump +2; Hovde -2).

The Montana poll provides further evidence that we will continue to see a hot Senate race cycle, with the most fervent campaigning still to come.

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