The same polling agency that found Newt Gingrich leading the state's GOP presidential primary released new numbers this afternoon on Montana's mega 2012 Senate race between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg. Here's the nut from Public Policy Polling:
When PPP first tested the Montana Senate race last November Denny Rehberg led Jon Tester by 2 points, 48-46. When PPP tested it in June Rehberg again led Tester by 2 points, 47-45. And when PPP looked at the contest this week Rehberg led Tester by...you guessed it...2 points, 47-45. This is the most stable race PPP has ever polled and quite a marked contrast to the wild Republican Presidential contest.
PPP goes on to explain that, despite leading, Rehberg is less popular than Tester.
46% of voters approve of the job [Tester's] doing to 42% who disapprove. Meanwhile Rehberg is under water with 41% of voters approving of him and 47% disapproving. Tester leads 46-41 with independents. But Montana's a Republican state and Tester's winning only 10% of the GOP vote, while losing an equal 10% of the Democratic vote to Rehberg. Tester's either going to have to win independent voters by a wider margin or pick up more Republicans if he's going to get reelected.
Interestingly both candidates have seen their popularity decline over the 5 months since PPP last polled the state.