The Public Policy Polling Group has put out a tantalizing poll for those of us who enjoy the parlor game of Montana political punditing. The poll shows Brian Schweitzer beating Max Baucus decisively 51-34 in a hypothetical 2014 Democratic primary match-up. This means Baucus’s bad hangover from the healthcare reform mess hasn’t yet gone away. (He may need to smoke some cannabis; I’m told this helps.)
If these numbers were to hold, it’s hard to see how–or why–Baucus would run for re-election if (a big if) Schweitzer took the plunge.
Yes, Schweitzer will need a job in ’12, but he doesn’t seem to care much for Congress, and so whether he’d want to serve alongside a bunch of stiffs is an open question.
Baucus does have a long history of overcoming odds with luck, cunning and patience. But, it’d be a tough nut to crack to make up such a large amount of ground if this contest were to materialize. Schweitzer seems to have solidified his numbers among base voters, perhaps partially as a result of his tough talk against Tea Party lunacy in the legislature (which involved, literally, a hot cattle-branding iron applied to the collective ass of the Tea Party that progressive vegetarian voters seem not to have minded).
One thing is certain: an MB v BS primary would see lots of national dough, for better or for worse. The Pharmaceutical companies would get an erection without Viagra, in support of Baucus, their number one man in Congress, and against Schweitzer, their number one villain with his ideas about drug re-importation and Canadian-style healthcare.
National progressives, meanwhile, would likely return the favor on behalf of their man Schweitzer, and against Baucus whom they’ve been eyeing for many years.
The tougher part for Baucus might be in convincing Washington Democratic pubahs that he is a good horse to bet on, given that Schweitzer, who is very strong in MT, would likely face only token opposition in a general election whereas Baucus would almost certainly have a big fight on his hands. The GOP nominee in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but depending on who the donkey is, the elephant could be Steve Daines, Rick Hill, Ryan Zinke, Neil Livingstone or possibly even Denny Rehberg.
If nothing else, this poll give us plenty for discussion. Let’s hear some, folks.