Barack Obama is pretty unpopular in Montana and may have lost out on his best chance to win the state in 2008- unless the Republicans end up nominating Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich.
Obama came within 3 points of victory in Montana the last time around but now only 41% of voters in the state approve of the job he's doing while 54% disapprove. It's a Republican state to begin with and beyond that Republican voters are much more unified in their disapproval of Obama (94%) than Democrats are in their favor of him (84%). He's lost more support than he's gained since falling just short in the 2008 election.
Because of Obama's diminished popularity two Republicans- Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee- lead him by much larger margins in hypothetical match ups than what John McCain attained in the state. Romney has a 50-39 advantage over Obama and Huckabee leads him 51-41. Montana doesn't look like it would be a swing state right now with either of them as the GOP nominee.
Things look a lot more interesting though if Palin or Gingrich were to get the nod. Palin leads Obama only 47-45 and Gingrich's advantage over the President is just 46-44. Most striking is the numbers with independents if one of them was to be nominee. Obama leads Palin by 18 points with them at 52-34 and Gingrich by 17 points with them at 49-32. Not exactly the kind of numbers you would expect to see in a conservative state.
Only Huckabee out of the Republican candidates is viewed particularly favorably in Montana. 46% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 35% with a negative one. Romney comes close to breaking even at 38/39. The rest of the field meanwhile is pretty unpopular- Palin's favorability breakdown is 44/50 and Gingrich's is 34/47. These poor reviews for the GOP front runners in a state that's been largely a Republican stronghold at the Presidential level are emblematic of the weakness of this potential candidate field.
Obama's lost some ground in Montana and 2008 was probably his best opportunity to win the state but if he gets one of the weaker Republicans as his opponent the next time around he may have a chance there again.
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