Jon Tester Slips in Montana: Poll Shows Democrat in Statistical Tie with GOP’s Matt Rosendale

Collage of Jon Tester and Matt Rosendale
AP/Getty
SEAN MORAN

Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) lead in the Montana Senate race slipped to a statistical dead heat as Montana state auditor, rancher, and Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale continued to surge in the final weeks of the election.

A Gravis Marketing poll released on Tuesday found that Sen. Tester leads by only three points—48 to 45 percent—against Rosendale, while seven percent of voters remain decided. The survey has a 3.5 percent margin of error, making the Montana Senate race a virtual dead heat.

Rosendale maintains a seven-point lead amongst voters who have made up their minds about the Montana Senate election, with 16 percent of voters who would back Rosendale, nine percent of Montanans who would vote for Tester, and 75 percent of voters who have yet to make up their minds about the Montana race.

A majority of Montanans approve of President Donald J. Trump, which makes Tester’s re-election campaign even more difficult. Forty-three percent of Montanans strongly support Trump, 15 percent somewhat approve of the president, compared to six percent somewhat disapprove of the president, 33 percent strongly dislike Trump, and four percent remain unsure how they feel about the president.

In contrast to President Trump, Tester serves as a polarizing figure in Montana. Thirty-seven percent of Montanans strongly approve of the incumbent Democrat, 12 percent somewhat approve of Tester, compared to 12 percent who somewhat disapprove of Sen. Tester, 33 percent who strongly disapprove of Tester, and six percent who remain unsure how they feel about Tester.

Sen. Tester has tried to appeal to his Montana values during the Senate race, touting his apparent love of hunting despite that he has not had a Montana hunting license in six years.

In an interview last week with NBC Montana, Tester said a gun “is a tool to me, I use it to control pests, I use it when I’m able to go hunting to be able to go hunting, and in butchering animals.”

The Montana Democrat neglected to mention that he did not have a hunting license for more than six years, making it impossible for Tester to hunt. The last time Sen. Tester had a hunting license was in 2012—the last time he up for re-election.

“It’s pretty disingenuous to see Jon Tester talk about the importance of hunting when he’s rarely had a hunting license,” Rosendale said in September. “It’s not surprising though, Jon Tester has changed. He left behind his Montana values a long time ago.”

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