Public Policy Polling released the results of its recent work in Montana, and they came up with an interesting early take on the 2012 Senate race.
Sen. Jon Tester is considerably more popular than his likely 2012 opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, yet still lags the Republican by a hair in his bid for a second term representing Montana. In fact, Tester is the most popular senator we've ever polled on who still trails in a re-election horserace.
PPP, which is based out of Raleigh, NC, and uses automated calling, polled more than 800 Montana voters over three days this week. The organization asked about Tester v. Rehberg, as well as Sen. Max Baucus.
Despite polling favorably, Tester trails Rehberg 47-45. Not much changed in how either candidate has scored since last election, except this:
The main change has come with independents, who make up almost a third of the state's voters. They saw [Rehberg] favorably, 46-37, last fall, but disapprove 35-54 now, almost the opposite of their 53-36 approval of Tester.
And here's how Baucus scored:
He is less popular than Tester with Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.
View the full results by downloading this PDF: