The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee have filed a federal lawsuit in Montana claiming that Gov. Steve Bullock (D) does not have the legal authority to allow counties to choose whether to send all voters unsolicited absentee ballots. All but one major county is opting to do so, as they all did in the primary. Montana will likely be a top five state for Trump, and with the Governor, Senate, and at-large House seat all up for grabs, this small state carries major importance in this general election.
A new survey from Democratic polling firm Expedition Strategies (8/22-27; 400 MT likely voters via live land line or cell phone interview) finds Democratic open seat candidate Kathleen Williams, a former state Representative, taking a small 49-47% lead over State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), after the latter man had opened a lead as large as six points in an early August poll (WPA Intelligence; 8/9-11; 500 MT likely voters: 51-45% Rosendale). With leaners added for both candidates, the Expedition point spread advances to 51-48% in Ms. Williams’ favor.
The fact that President Trump leads in this same poll only 48-44% suggests at least a slight Democratic skew since Montana will likely be a top five state for the President, especially when recalling he recorded a 20 point 56-36% margin here in 2016.
In a new WPA Intelligence survey (8/9-11; 500 MT likely voters), Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) has established a six-point lead in the at-large congressional contest against former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who was also the 2018 Democratic congressional nominee. The ballot test reveals Mr. Rosendale to be holding a 51-45% margin. This is the best poll the Republican has seen since soon after the state’s June 2nd primary.
The Emerson College Polling Institute released their new Montana poll (7/31-8/2; 584 MT likely voters via live interview) and while the results find President Trump outpolling former Vice President Joe Biden, 53-42%, the more important story is Sen. Steve Daines (R) reaching beyond the polling margin of error for the first time in this cycle in his race against Gov. Steve Bullock, the Democratic US Senate nominee. Emerson finds Sen. Daines leading Gov. Bullock, 50-44%.
Once again, we see wild splits in how people intend to cast their ballot. Among people who say they will vote in person, President Trump wins their support by a whopping 87-11% margin. Looking to those who plan to mail their ballots, Mr. Biden sees a huge 63-33% spread breaking in his favor. County Clerks reportedly are asking Gov. Bullock to allow them to decide, as he did in the primary, whether they can individually convert to all-mail voting. They are asking for a decision by August 10th.
Spry Strategies also tested the Montana electorate (7/11-16; 701 MT likely voters) and produced results consistent with other pollsters. In yet another firewall must-win for Republicans, Sen. Steve Daines (R) is posted to a slight three-point advantage over Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, 47-44%. Within the same polling period, the Civiqs firm, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (7/11-13; 873 MT registered voters) sees Sen. Daines holding a similar 49-47% edge. The slightly earlier Public Policy Polling study (7/9-10) gave Gov. Bullock a 46-44% slim lead.
Another poll was released in Montana that finds the Senate race between incumbent Steve Daines (R) and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to be a cliff hanger. The prolific Public Policy Polling again has released new data, this time of the Big Sky Country electorate. The survey (7/9-10; 1,224 MT “voters”) gives Gov. Bullock a 46-44% edge over Sen. Daines. With the same respondent sample yielding President Trump a 51-42% advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden, it is likely that Sen. Daines is the candidate who has more room to grow.
Public Policy Polling in their Montana survey (see Senate section above) also tested the open House race between State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D). According to the PPP results, the two candidates are tied at 44% apiece. A close result is also consistent with other Montana polls that have been publicized here in the past few weeks.
Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group, surveying for the Kathleen Williams campaign (6/24-28; 500 MT likely general election voters), finds both Ms. Williams (D) and State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) in a dead heat tie at 47% apiece for Montana’s at-large open congressional seat. This survey, however, disagrees with last week’s University of Montana data (6/17-26; 517 MT registered voters) that posted Mr. Rosendale to a relatively strong 45-37% advantage.
A story in the June 6th Business Insider publication reports that mail voting was handled well in certain states for last Tuesday’s primary, and poorly in others. Getting good marks, according to the BI story, are Iowa, Michigan, and Montana. Doing poorly, where voters were not sent their ballots, receiving incorrect ballots for their districts, or facing crowded polling stations for those who chose to vote in person, were the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
With voter turnout being way down in Pennsylvania, for example (34% under 2016 Democratic primary participation totals and 55% for Republicans), a great deal of the reasoning for such a steep fall off could be that thousands of voters simply weren’t well enough informed that the April 28th election had been moved to June 2nd. We will be hearing much more about the all-mail experience while undoubtedly seeing calls for increasing mail options for this year’s general election.
A total of 24 states will host nomination elections in June, ten of which are postponed from earlier dates. Tomorrow is the biggest day, with ten states holding elections. Eight will vote in their presidential primaries (Iowa and Idaho held their presidential nominating votes earlier in the year).
June 2nd hosts regular state primaries on their originally scheduled date in Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has postponed the presidential and state primary to July 7th, thus opting out of its traditional early June nomination date because of Coronavirus precautions.
A presidential stand-alone event is occurring in Rhode Island tomorrow, necessary since their regular state primary is scheduled as one of the latest in the country on September 15th. Postponed state primaries from earlier in the year are happening in the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
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