Montana was one of the closest states where Barack Obama fell short in 2008 but he's regressed there in the last few years and doesn't appear to have a serious chance at adding it to his victory column in 2012.
Only 43% of voters in the state approve of the job Obama's doing to 54% who disapprove. Democrats are pretty universal in their approval of him (88%) but Republicans are just as unanimous in their disapproval (89%). Given that Montana's a GOP leaning state and that Obama is also on negative ground with independents (39/56), it's not a very good formula for success for the President.
Obama lost the state by 3 points to John McCain but trails even the GOP lesser lights by more than that now. Mitt Romney is the strongest of the Republicans, leading Obama by 8 points at 49-41. Michele Bachmann leads by 6 at 48-42, Herman Cain's up 5 at 46-41, and Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty each lead by 4 points at 48-44 and 45-41 respectively.
Given Montana's GOP lean Obama needs to do some combination of winning a healthy chunk of Republican voters and taking independents by a wide margin if he hopes to pick up the state. Right now he is doing neither of those things. He only gets 4-7% of the Republican vote in those five match ups. And he's anywhere from trailing by 6 points to a tie with independents. He'll need to step it up on both of those fronts to have any chance in the state next year.
Montana is not likely to be important to the Presidential race but the Senate contest in the state will be pivotal and Obama's numbers are significant for that. Last week we found Jon Tester trailing Denny Rehberg by a small margin despite having an approval rating over 50%. Senate elections in Presidential years can get awfully nationalized and there's a good chance that Obama's approval numbers in the state might end up being as important or more than Tester's- and if that's the case that's bad news for Dems.
It's not all good news for Republicans in this poll. Even though they lead Obama the GOP field all has negative favorability ratings in the state- it's -2 for Cain at 25/27, -6 for Bachmann at 34/40, -10 for Palin at 41/51, -14 for Pawlenty at 22/36, and -15 for Romney at 33/48. Montana is an old, white, Republican state. For none of the GOP candidates to have positive numbers there doesn't say much for their appeal.
Voters there do like them better than Obama though! Montana probably won't be on the battleground list next year.
Full results here