Rick Hill’s Unusually High Negatives; They Increase in Latest Poll; Good News for Dems

It is very, very unusual for a major candidate to begin his quest for state-wide office with negative name ID among the general public.  I cannot recall a major nominee, for Senate, Governor, or any other major race in Montana, who began with negative popularity.  I’ve never seen it before.  Generally they are either popular by a good ratio, or else unknown.

And yet in the last two polls conducted in Montana, Rick Hill, running for Governor, has gotten strong negative ratings.  The first one, done late last year, showed him at 16-19 pos/neg.  The second one, done last week, shows him at 20-25 pos/neg.

By contrast, Steve Bullock, the likely Democratic nominee, is in the opposite situation. He is always been popular and remains so, at a 28-18 pos/neg.  This bodes extremely well for Bullock to be the next Governor. Something about Rick Hill clearly smells bad to a lot of voters, and so Bullock starts out a favorite. My prediction is Bullock takes him.  Realize, also, that Hill had a ten point lead over Bullock in the last poll, but in this latest one, Bullock has completely erased that deficit.

One flaw with this poll was that it didn’t didn’t take into account the Libertarian in the race, Ron Vandevender, who as a third party candidate automatically moves beyond the primary into the general.

Hill will most likely be the GOP nominee.  The man previously thought to be his closest contender, millionaire terrorist expert Neil Livingstone, appears to be AWOL.  He hasn’t campaigned, has barely spoken to the press, skipped the major candidate forum at the GOP convention, and wasn’t even included on the latest poll.  This is a sign that his campaign will either quickly go down the drain, or else he’ll try to buy the victory with some massive expenditure of his personal fortune. My sense is this guy has neither the stomach nor the inclination to put much effort into this race, and is setting himself up to get a little name recognition so he can run against Baucus in 2014, and go back to Washington DC where he is from.

Ken Miller is the dark-horse, for sure, but it is not clear that he has any fundamental knowledge about how to win a state-wide race.   Corey Stapleton, after beginning the race by referring to himself in his official biography as a “child addict” and then quickly removing this reference when the blogs caught on to it, is clearly not a serious threat, nor is he likely a consideration for a number two spot.

As with Bob Dole, John McCain and  Mitt Romney (probably), the GOP will simply go with what it knows, go with the veteran. And lose.

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16 Comments on "Rick Hill’s Unusually High Negatives; They Increase in Latest Poll; Good News for Dems"

  1. Interesting mention of the Libertarian issue in the race. I guess you have not heard the likelihood of a 2nd Libertarian entering the race – possibly causing an unprecedented Libertarian primary. I imagine that means the Libertarians would not be able to cross over and vote the other tickets.

    Livingstone didn’t “skip” the candidate forum – he said he thought it was at a different time. He was given time later on, where he gave a pretty good speech. The biggest baggage he carries is choosing Zinke for his Lt.

    I hear the Miller campaign is on life support and about out of funds.

    I see no reason for Bullock to enter the race soon – even though he has accepted a campaign contribution in excess of what the AG can accept. He may as well continue using his current position to keep getting his name out there for free or at taxpayer expense.

    What we need now is a Constitutional Party candidate to jump in. That would really stir up the Republican side of the race.

  2. @Cowboy – how do you figure that Libertarians would not be able to vote other tickets. You mean in the primary? Who is this other candidate? And as for your search for excuses for Livingstone that he “thought it was at a different time” being so clueless makes him even more of a joke then he already appears to be.

  3. A couple of flaws with this post…

    1) Bullock hasn’t entered the race. He may not enter the race. He has indicated at once that he is more interested in staying in his current position. Further, the poll did not put him even with Hill, he trails Hill by 2%. If the poll error favors him, he is even.

    2) Bohlinger was polled as well (not mentioned in your post at all). While Bohlinger is officially listed as a Republican, he was polled as a Democrat (an in truth, with the way the Montana Republican Party is fractured between the Moderates, the Main Stream Republicans, and the Tea Party nutcases, Bohlinger would probably be better off running as a Democrat). He has not indicated he is running for this office and a number of political writers have said he probably won’t run for a variety of reasons. That said, if he runs, he has more name recognition than any other candidate and polls as well (or better) than Bullock. If Bullock remains out of the race and Bohlinger enters the race, this will be a completely different ballgame. Bohlinger tends to poll well with Democrats, even better with moderates of both parties and poorly with ultra right wingers. He could easily win the seat.. if he enters.

    3) A lot can happen between now and November of next year. This race will be contentious, expensive and quite likely dirty. Essmann is a joke but he is VERY likely to play this one as dirty as he can – and that is pretty dirty. This race isn’t even close to being locked up and until the field focuses and narrows a little, trying to predict a “winner” at this stage is hardly realistic.

  4. Spin all you want, but the fact remains that Hill leads the two highest democrat state incumbents eligible for the job in a democrat poll with a slanted sample. Top that off with the news that Bullock may not have a lock on the dem nomination and I’d say you are missing the two biggest headlines. Your argument is nothing but an interesting yet inconsequencial footnote.

    • ” in a democrat poll with a slanted sample” –

      While I grant you that the PPP is a supposed “Democratic” organization, their polls tend to lean slightly conservative. This has been documented multiple times by multiple organizations including the NY Times. Further, what proof do you have that it was a “slanted sample”? I have been doing some research on this poll (see the last couple of posts here at Cowgirl’s site) and the responces I am getting from PPP would actually lead me to believe – given how the sample was selected – that the poll might actually lean more toward the Republican side of the house. I will post more when my last email to them is answered.

      As far as the “two highest democrat state incumbents” I am not sure who you are refering to. There is no incumbant for this office. The current governor is term limited and the vice governor has not entered the race as yet. If he does enter the race, we do not know if he will enter as a Republican or Democrat. Bohlinger has more name recognition than any other candidate, he has a higher approval rating than any other candidate and he was polled 1% behind Hill with 21% undecided. If he enters the race, he has a good chance of winning against Hill (assuming he enters as a Democrat). If he enters as a Republican, it is anyone’s guess as the poll did not address that possibility. As I said above, the Montana Republican Party is very fractured at this point and what will happen in the primary will reflect that. It also doesn’t help that the Republican Candidate field is so big, no political forecast models can deal with it. Even the pundits are having a hard time with that idea. Personally, it is my opinion that, if Bohlinger enters as a Republican, he will win the primary and probably the General.

      The only way Bullock would NOT have a lock on the primary is if A)Bohlinger enters as a Democrat or B) Wanzenried pulls off some kind of miracle campaign and his name recognition increases exponencially. I will agree that Bullock is not the kind of candidate to energize anyone but he is a widely known candidate with a generally good approval rating. If Bohlinger enters as a Democrat, it would not surprise me at all if Bullock decides to stay in his current position. If he runs for his current position, he will win easily regardless of the field running against him.

    • Larry,

      I followed your link and while I see the obvious bias toward the oil and natural gas companies in that organization, why should be we be “very afraid”?

      • i stuck a couple in the spam box, cowgirl. ok to delete

        Eastern Montana is in danger of becoming Wyoming or North Dakota. One of the questions that has yet to be answered by opponents of the biomass boiler at UM is how hydraulic fracturing was not included in the discussion to my satisfaction. Why continue to enrich the Koch wing of the GOP when Montana can produce its own energy.

        i asked this in South Dakota how much revenue the Missouri River dams produce for the state. The answer is zero; same with Fort Peck. The grid is not our friend; it is a millstone being used as a personal flotation device.

        Democrats hear this far more clearly than the earth haters do.

  5. From my experience Montana is populated mostly by people congenitally inclined toward teabaggery.

  6. Eastern Montana is in danger of becoming Wyoming or North Dakota. One of the questions that has yet to be answered by opponents of the biomass boiler at UM is how hydraulic fracturing was not included in the discussion to my satisfaction. Why continue to enrich the Koch wing of the GOP when Montana can produce its own energy.

    i asked this in South Dakota how much revenue the Missouri River dams produce for the state. The answer is zero; same with Fort Peck. The grid is not our friend; it is a millstone being used as a personal flotation device.

    Democrats hear this far more clearly than the earth haters do.

    i’m getting sent to the spam box, cowgirl.

  7. Rick Hill’s affair is the smallest scandal he’ll have to deal with. Google Time Magazine, Rick Hill, and TRIAD.

  8. I SAY VOTE FOR RON VANDEVENDER HE IS THE BEST WE GOT , AND WILL HAVE , EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO HIS PAGE , RONFORMONTANA.COM , HE TURN ME ,

    • Correction , He turn me away from the dems and reps. I now believe in what Ron has to say , and i am going all the way , Wish i could meet him , but i will be calling him and talking more about his thought on our Great state

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