On the Montana poll that we released a couple weeks ago we also had some numbers on who Republicans in the state wanted as their candidates for President and Senate in 2012 and we just never got around to releasing them. So here goes:
Steve Daines is the most eager GOP Senate candidate in the state but at this point only 5% of Republicans there say they want him as their nominee. Most would like to see either Marc Racicot (40%) or Denny Rehberg (37%) end up with the nod. Rehberg has near universal popularity with the Republican base (75/14) and although he gets a lot of 'not sures' 10 years removed from the Governor's office pretty much all Republicans with an opinion about Racicot like him (58/12 favorability). It's hard to imagine anyone else winning the nomination if either of them end up running. That said, Daines has just 24% name recognition with Republican voters right now and Livingstone only 12% so either of them could certainly pick up some steam as they become better known.
There is a bit of an ideological division in who Montana Republicans would most like to see as their nominee. Conservatives narrowly favor Rehberg by a 39-38 margin, but moderates would rather have Racicot by a 49-30 spread. That greater appeal to the center is why Racicot polled somewhat better than Rehberg in a hypothetical head to head with Jon Tester.
Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are the top choices of GOP voters in the state to be the Presidential nominee in 2012, earning support levels of 23% and 22% respectively. Among the other front runners Newt Gingrich is at 16% and Mitt Romney 12%. Leading the second tier contenders is Ron Paul with 9% followed by Tim Pawlenty and John Thune at 3%, and Mitch Daniels at 2%. Although Thune's 3% is not particularly impressive it is the highest level of support PPP has found for him in any state so far.
In a departure from what we usually see in these polls, Huckabee actually has a slight lead with conservatives at 23-22 but Palin's small overall advantage comes because she beats him out 25-18 with moderates. In another interesting twist Huckabee has a 3 point advantage with women while Palin has a 6 point lead with men. That's becoming a bit of a trend in our polling, as the last national poll also found Huckabee first with women and Palin first with men. That's not the normal sort of gender gap you see but is reflective of the kind of folks each of them appeal to.
Full results here