- The Washington Times
Monday, August 3, 2020

A poll released Monday found Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Republican, leading in his 2020 reelection bid, a race that was declared a toss-up after the entry of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

The Emerson College poll found Mr. Daines ahead by 50% to 44% for Mr. Bullock, who launched his Senate campaign in March after exiting the Democratic presidential primary.

The results offer good news for Mr. Daines, who has been running neck-and-neck with Mr. Bullock, now serving his second term as governor, in a state that went heavily for President Trump four years ago but also has a history of electing moderate Democrats.

The same poll showed Mr. Trump leading former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, by 53% to 42% with Big Sky voters. The undecideds leaned toward Mr. Biden by a 3-1 margin, according to poll director Spencer Kimball.

“Montana could be a bellwether of sorts to see if Gov. Bullock can buck the trend of 2016 when Trump states went Republican in Senate races while Clinton states went Democratic,” said Mr. Kimball.

Mr. Trump won Montana in 2016 by a margin of 56% to 34% over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

After Mr. Bullock entered the race, both Inside Elections and the Cook Political Report moved the Senate contest to “toss-up,” with Cook saying Mr. Bullock’s name recognition and handling of the novel coronavirus crisis were likely to boost the Democrat against the first-term Senate incumbent.

So far fundraising has been competitive. Mr. Daines had raised $12.9 million as of the June 30 financial report, while Mr. Bullock was close behind at $10.9 million. The Real Clear Politics average has Mr. Daines leading by 2 percentage points.

In the state’s one House race, the poll found Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte running ahead of Democrat Mike Cooney by 50% to 41%.

The poll of 584 registered voters was conducted July 31-Aug. 2.

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