Anyone who smokes pot (or is supportive of medical marijuana) will be happy to know that anti-cannabis crusader Jeff Essmann, who has recently claimed an interest in running for Governor, has a negative popularity rating of almost 4-1. That’s worse than any politician polled in Montana since Judy Martz.
For every six Montanans who like Essmann, 22 say they don’t like him.
Rick Hill also has surprisingly high negatives. 30-20 against. These are terrible numbers for a candidate to start out with. Essmann’s numbers are not surprising, but Hill is really weaker than I expected. This is because he hails from Congress, and Montanans don’t really like Congress or Washington.
Worse yet, John Bohlinger would slap down Essmann in a head to head race if Bohlinger ran as a Democrat, by seven points. This tells me that Essmann’s gubernatorial aspirations appear to have taken a major blow, and his marijuana act might have been a major miscalculation on his part, a politically tone-deaf stunt that libertarian Montanans are upset about. Ken Miller would likewise lose to Bohlinger. Former state senator Corey Stapleton did not even get polled, nor did terrorism expert Neil Livingstone, who skipped most of the GOP convention last weekend. So these guys are sort of a joke, at least for now, although Livingstone has millions of personal wealth, so don’t count him out totally.
And, Steve Bullock and Bohlinger both are roughly even against the mer-man, Rick Hill. Schweitzer remains at top of list nationally as most popular Democratic governor.
The Hill-Bullock number is surprising because this same polling company (which is known for a slightly conservative bias, btw) had Hill beating Bullock by almost ten points when they polled five months ago. Remember too that this poll didn’t didn’t take into account the Libertarian in the race, Ron Vandevender, who as a third party candidate has the potential to take a large percentage of the conservative vote – especially if Hill is the GOP nominee.
The only explanation is that the republican brand has taken a severe beating in Montana because of the wild and wacky legislative session. As this blog predicted, it dragged the GOP down across the board.