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Photo of Steve Daines in front of hay bales in a stable
GOP Rep. Steve Daines
PPP's new Montana numbers contain little but bad news for Democrats. In the state's open Senate race, GOP Rep. Steve Daines, who recently announced his candidacy, leads Lt. Gov. John Walsh 52-35 and former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger 51-36. And that's despite his newly negative 37-42 job approval rating (he was at 41-33 in June). Barack Obama's approvals, meanwhile, are a brutal 34-63; by contrast, they stood at 44-53 a year ago, just ahead of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester's narrow re-election victory. If that doesn't change, it'll be very hard to stop Daines, given that he's already over 50.

And while conservatives have grumbled over Daines' vote to end the government shutdown in October, he blows away state Rep. Champ Edmunds 66-7 in a hypothetical primary. Democrats, meanwhile, have a much closer race, as Walsh has a 39-31 lead over Bohlinger. Interestingly, Walsh does better with more liberal voters, even though Bohlinger is running a classic "outsider" campaign; however, Bohlinger used to be a Republican, so that might explain the gap (and in any event, the sub-group samples are very small).

Meanwhile, the picture for Daines' now-open House seat isn't much better. Democrats have been hyping former congressional aide John Lewis, but he trails every Republican PPP tested. Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton leads 44-31; former Secretary of State Brad Johnson is up 43-32; and state Sen. Matt Rosendale and former state Sen. Ryan Zinke are both ahead 37-32. All of these candidates are unknown, so Lewis' deficit can't be ascribed merely to lack of name recognition. For what it's worth, though, Stapleton has an early lead in the GOP primary, taking 32 percent to Johnson's 20, with Zinke and Rosendale at 9 apiece.

All the usual caveats of "just one poll" and "it's still early" apply, as ever. But if Republicans finally end their lengthy streak of losing in Montana, will anyone really be surprised? It's Montana, after all, a state Mitt Romney carried by over 13 points. Democrats should consider themselves very fortunate to have done this well in a state this red for this long.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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