New Poll Looks at a Baucus v. Schweitzer Primary

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.

Posted: July 6, 2011 at 7:49 am

29 thoughts on “New Poll Looks at a Baucus v. Schweitzer Primary

  1. Moorcat

    There is no contest. If Schweitzer runs against Baucus, Baucus will fold and retire. Period. Baucus may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them. Schweitzer is one of the best loved Governors this state has had and his popularity would traslate in a Senate race. Baucus, on the other hand, has betrayed his base, lost the support of most of the moderates and has never really appealed to the hard right (with the exception of the corporatists). He is nothing more than a corporate stooge at this point and his votes show it. Any strong Democratic Candidate could win that primary at this point but Schweitzer is a shoe in for both the Primary and the General.

  2. James Conner

    Baucus will be 73 in December, 2014. If re-elected in 2014, he’ll be in his 80th year when finishes that term. He should follow Paul Sarbanes’ example and retire at the end of his current term. It’s time for someone younger. I think Schweitzer would do better in the executive branch, but he would also be a damned good senator. In the meantime, Baucus should re-read The Last Hurrah.

  3. Moorcat

    Understand that if Baucus does retire, and Schweitzer doesn’t run for the position, the odds are that the position will end up Republican. Assuming that Denny Rehberg loses to Tester (yes, I know… big assumption), Rehberg would run for that position. There are not many Democrats in Montana that could successfully take on Denny and his richs if he were to decide to run for Baucus’s seat. Tester has the advantage of being an incumbant (a small advantage, but one nonetheless). Schweitzer has the advantage of being extremely popular. No one else – as it stands now – has those advantages. This is not to say that no one could successfully run against Rehberg for that seat, but whoever did would definitely be fighting an uphill battle.

    1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      Moorcat, I’ve come to look forward to your posts. You have some good insight. And for the folks who don’t read Moorcat’s site, I suggest you do. “A Trip to the Dentist” is a great read. Oh, that’s not the only one, but my favorite. For a conservative, Moorcat makes a lot of sense. We just may turn him into a lefty one of these days.

      http://www.moorcat.com/roadlesstraveled/

      1. Moorcat

        Thanks for the shoutout Larry, but if Rob couldn’t turn me into a liberal, no one can. The interesting thing is that we tend to get to the same conclusions from different directions.

          1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

            Tokarski is a super hero in his own mind. Perhaps you’ve heard of Spider Man? Well, Mark is Gnat Man! He is continually buzzing around, and his super hero power is avoiding getting slapped down MOST of the time. Well, actually, just once in a while. He gets smashed a lot. Hard to ignore his annoying buzzing.

        1. Mark Tokarski

          I am quite sure that you are everything imaginable in your own mind, but the fact is that you do not understand politics, and so are continually drawing wrong conclusions, and have no ability to predict even near-term events. It was easy for me to say that Obama would preserve the Bush tax cuts. You on the other hand said that one of his accomplishments in office (you were stretching to name a credible list) was that he was going to let them expire. You got nothing. ?

          What I said to Budge applies to you too: a tree that produces no fruit should be plowed under.

  4. John

    Please Governor Schweizter, help us put Baucus out of his misery. He has been a miserable Senator with no regard for the base. We may as well have a Republican as Baucus and everyone here knows it.

  5. Jedediah

    This sounds as though the Democratic cock is crowing about Schweitzer (a dullard)
    after it has been finally been killed by so many decades of success by Baucus (an opportunist.)

  6. Anne

    If Schweitzer doesn’t run against Baucus, somebody should. How about Denise Juneau?

    1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      Schweitzer will run. Schweitzer will win. Schweitzer will be one of the best senators we’ve ever had. He has uncommon courage, intellect, integrity, and most importantly, compassion. In other words, he’s a good man who will do a lot of good for our state and country. And he has that quality which is TERRIBLY needed in DC at the moment, a very low tolerance for bullshit.

      And even though he’s not a great enviro and I’m a radical enviro, I would vote for him in a second. We just agree to disagree on the environment, that’s all. We have to educate him a bit on that. I suspect that with his background in advanced science, he fully understands that our current course is unsustainable. He is the ONLY politico I’ve ever heard who has a coherent plan to sustain us until we can go with renewables.

      Save this post. You will see that I’m right. Scwheitzer was destined for bigger things. It just ain’t time to quit. ‘Sides, he can come home every weekend like Tester does. MAN! Wouldn’t THAT be a combo? Schweitzer and Big Jon! Jon can show him the ropes, and Schweitzer can show Jon the branding irons! Little one for little bills, medium size on for worse bills, and the bull brand for bullshit bills!

      Let’s do it!

        1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

          Like the old Eyetalian dude used to say when I was a kid, “he’s like’a bad toilet paper. He no take’a the shit off noboby”! That’s be Schweitzer! He no take’a the shit off NObody, even the pukes at exxon!

      1. Havre Voter

        Ha! How cool would this be! The more I think about it, the more I think Larry is right. Schweitzer will run and he will win. I predict that Rehberg will lose to Tester and then Schweitzer will face him in the general in 2014.

      2. Jed

        After the environment has been sufficiently neglected by [u]“this otherwise good man”[/u], lapdog, where will you go? There is no alternative environment…

      3. Mark Tokarski

        What is it about Schweitzer’s character that makes you think he is anymore capable of withstanding the pressure to sell out in DC than Tester, who didn’t even put up a Cool Hand Luke fight? I’d like to believe that he’s got some rocks, but there’s a fact of life about American politics you need to learn: People of high character raise low money,

      1. ed2363

        I agree, I think Denise would be a better fit for another Tier B office than for congress or Governor. Great lady though for sure.

  7. Scoop

    “This means Baucus’s bad hangover from the healthcare reform mess hasn’t yet gone away.”

    And neither has Tester’s. He will lose to Rehberg almost as badly as Baucus would to Schweitzer.

    1. Moorcat

      Unlikely, Scoop. Even moderate Republicans are becoming very tired of Rehberg’s failed tenure as Montana’s only Representative. Tester has a proven record in the Senate (especially when it comes to Veterans) and it will stand him in good stead during this election. Rehberg’s record is not as stellar and his anti-woman, anti-jobs, anti-Montana, pro-corporation stances, proven time and time again by his votes, will torpedo his chances against Tester. To add insult to injury, his recent fiasco (trying to convince Montanans that he is “cash poor” and falsifying his income statements) played with Montanans about as well as his suit against the Billings Fire Fighters. Rehberg will lose. Not as badly and Rehberg will lose against Schweitzer if the above scenario occurs, but lose nonetheless.

  8. Scoop

    Moorcat- The only record Tester has is one filled with oversized government solutions to mythical problems that many Democrats resist, not to mention moderate Republicans. This race will not be Rehberg running against himself, but rather a referendum on the incumbent.

    On the side, I know that Democrat pundits believe in a veteran surge for Tester, but I can’t find a single veteran that is vocally supporting him in my community. I am sure there are some out there, but the visible leaders I know are organizing for Rehberg. They are outaged that Tester continues to vote to take away the freedoms for which they fought.

    1. Moorcat

      Scoop, I will assume you are not just a republican talking head and are a real person. That said, do you actually believe the stuff you are posting? A sitting politician’s voting record is extremely simple to look up. Tester has time and time again voted for Veteran’s rights and benefits. Rehberg, on the other hand, hasn’t. Tester has voted against the Patriot Act from day one. Rehberg can’t vote enough times for it.. he has waxed poetic about it. I am not a Democrat and I am a veteran. If you don’t know any vets that like Tester, either you don’t know many vets or they have bought into the Richy Rehberg hype. Do yourself a favor and look up Tester’s record for yourself. Prove you aren’t just a talking head.

  9. Monco

    Am I the only one who surprised that not a single daily newspaper in Montana has written up a story on the Baucus-Schweitzer poll? I usually don’t subscribe to Cowgirl’s media conspiracy theories, but the silence from the press is a little strange. You would think they’d love this story.

  10. Kathleene Evans

    Yeah that is a little strange. I googled it and found some national stories, so it’s clearly news. I guess we’re in some kind of news free zone here. After all, the capital city’s newspaper is being run out of Butte!

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