Democrat Steve Bullock has pulled ahead in the race to be Montana's next Governor. He's at 44 percent to 39 percent for Republican opponent Rick Hill. The candidates were tied at 39 percent on Public Policy Polling's last poll of the contest in the spring.
Montanans have a much more positive opinion of Bullock than they do of Hill. 43 percent of voters see him favorably to 27 percent with an unfavorable opinion. Bullock's name recognition has increased by 25 points since our last poll and he's gone from a +13 spread to at a +16 one. Hill meanwhile continues to be unpopular with 32 percent of voters rating him positively and 39 percent holding a negative opinion.
Bullock's up 41-34 with independents. He also has his party more unified around him with 83 percent of Democrats planning to vote for him compared to 75 percent of Republicans who are standing with Hill. Seven percent of Republicans are planning to vote for one of the third party candidates in the race while only 3 percent of Democrats are. It's a close contest but for now Bullock has the advantage.
Montana's constitutional amendment setting it as state policy that 'corporations are not people' has a wide lead for passage right now with 53 percent of voters saying they support it to 24 percent who are opposed. Democrats (67/13) and independents (59/25) both stand strong behind the 'corporations are not people' movement, while Republicans are pretty evenly divided with 32 percent of them supporting it and 35 percent opposed.
Brian Schweitzer continues to be one of the more popular governors in the country with 56 percent of voters approving of him to 35 percent who disapprove. If he ended up as the Democratic senate candidate in 2014 he would lead a generic Republican opponent by a 50-42 margin.
Democrats might not need Schweitzer to run to hold that seat though. Sen. Max Baucus has seen a significant improvement in his poll numbers over the last year. Last December only 37 percent of voters approved of the job he was doing to 51 percent who disapproved. Now he's seen a net 12 point improvement in his numbers and finds 45 percent of voters giving him good marks to 47 percent who remain unhappy. He would lead a generic GOP foe 48-42, only a touch worse than Schweitzer.
We continue to find that Schweitzer would lead Baucus in a hypothetical primary challenge. The spread is 40-36, more narrow than other times we've tested that question. However it's worth noting that the sample size of Democratic primary voters was only 200 this time, giving it a pretty high margin of error. Voters identifying themselves as 'very liberal' prefer Schweitzer by a 63-15 margin, but moderates go for Baucus by a 47-25 spread.