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HomePoliticsMontana PoliticsMontana Senate Race Heating Up

Montana Senate Race Heating Up

Jon Tester, the Democratic Senator from Montana, is striving to retain his seat in a state that strongly supported Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Despite Montana’s conservative leaning, Tester has managed to secure victories in several tough elections over the past decade, maintaining his popularity with the state’s right-leaning voters.

This November, Tester faces potentially one of the toughest re-election battles of his career. To win a fourth term, he must significantly outperform President Joe Biden, who tops the Democratic ticket. His main opponent is Republican Tim Sheehy, a businessman and retired Navy SEAL. Current polling suggests a tight race.

The latest poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the Montana Republican Party, reveals a deadlock between Tester and Sheehy, each receiving 46 percent support among 500 likely voters surveyed between June 11 and 13. Interestingly, Tester is polling 20 points better than Biden in Montana, where 57 percent of respondents favor Trump compared to 37 percent for Biden. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

Despite the high stakes, there have been few public polls on this race. Before the June survey, the most recent polls were from March. A J.L. Partners poll conducted from March 26 to 29 with 503 likely voters showed Sheehy ahead, 48 to 43 percent. Conversely, an Emerson College poll from February 26 to March 2 with 1,000 registered voters had Tester leading 44 to 42 percent.

The Cook Political Report lists Montana’s Senate race as one of the three pivotal toss-up contests, alongside Ohio and Nevada. For Democrats, this race is crucial. Tester, along with Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown, is one of two Democratic incumbents running in states that Trump won in 2020. With other Democrats contesting toss-up states and limited chances to flip Republican-held seats, holding on to every current seat is essential.

With West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin retiring, Democrats need to retain all their seats to achieve a 50-50 Senate split, which would allow the vice president to cast tie-breaking votes.

Financially, Tester has a significant advantage. From January 2023 to May 15, 2024, his campaign raised $32.8 million. In comparison, Sheehy’s campaign raised $10.5 million between July 27, 2023, and May 15, 2024.

Tester first won his Senate seat in 2006 and was re-elected in 2012 and 2018. In his last election, he won by a margin of 3.5 percentage points. By contrast, Trump secured Montana by over 16 points in the 2020 election.

With the race heating up, both candidates are gearing up for what promises to be an intense and closely watched contest. The outcome will not only determine Montana’s Senate representation but could also significantly impact the overall balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff

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