Poll: Montana’s U.S. Senate race a dead heat between Daines and Bullock

Sen. Steve Daines and Gov. Steve Bullock.

(CN) — Less than two weeks after announcing his campaign for U.S. Senate, Montana Governor Steve Bullock is tied with Republican incumbent Steve Daines in the first poll since the governor entered the important Senate race.

The poll from Public Policy Polling shows Bullock and Daines tied at 47-47, with 6% of voters undecided. Public Policy Polling surveyed 903 Montana voters by phone on March 12-13, and the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent.

Bullock announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat March 9 after saying for months he would not run against Daines. Bullock had been running for president in the crowded field of Democrats but suspended his run for president Dec. 2. With urging from former President Barack Obama and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Bullock threw his hat in the ring for the Senate.

Bullock is a popular Montana governor, winning his second term in 2016 in a state soundly carried by President Donald Trump in 2016. Bullock’s entry into the Senate race prompted all of the other Democrats in the race to immediately drop out. Cora Neumann of Bozeman, who had raised $650,000 during her five-month campaign, withdrew from the race after Bullock’s announcement March 9. Mike Knoles of Bozeman followed suit, as did Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and John Seckinger of Bozeman.

Thursday’s poll showed that the race for Montana’s U.S. House seat is also close.

In the election for Montana’s single House seat, Kathleen Williams and Matt Rosendale are tied 45-45, with 9% of voters still undecided, according to the poll.

Among independents, Bullock and Williams lead, with 50-42 for Bullock and 51-39 for Williams.

The poll said voters who answered the poll are closely divided in their opinion of Daines, with 45% holding a favorable opinion and 42% holding an unfavorable opinion.

Bullock’s margin of favorability was only slightly better, with 49% viewing him favorably and 40% viewing him unfavorably. Daines has raised $6.7 million in his re-election campaign, while federal campaign-finance reports have not been updated to reflect Bullock’s campaign war chest.

Bullock is the second Democratic governor to enter races for Senate seats, joining former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Bullock’s and Hickenlooper’s entries into their respective races give hope to the Democrats for flipping the Senate majority away from Republicans. Democrats need four seats for a clear majority.