More than a month after his controversial appointment, Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), has been unable to gain any traction in a race that is looking more and more likely to change hands this fall, making it one of the six seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate.
The latest poll out of Montana, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, finds that Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) holds a 14-point lead, 51/37, over Walsh.
Daines also holds an 18-point lead, 52/34, over another Democratic candidate, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, who is seen as a long-shot to knock off Walsh in the party’s June 3 primary.
Rather than picking a placeholder, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) appointed then-Lt. Gov. Walsh to the seat last month after Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) was confirmed to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was already not running for reelection, having announced his retirement early last year. He wasn’t nominated for the diplomatic post until December. Walsh announced his campaign in October.
Walsh is seen as Democrats’ best shot at keeping the seat in their hands, and they’d hoped that the appointment would give him time to establish himself as someone who is independent of his party and raise his profile.
In addition to the shady nature in which he was appointed to the seat, questions have been raised about ethics violations that occurred when Walsh led the Montana National Guard.
Daines is viewed more favorably (57/44) than Walsh (46/40). Also in Republicans’ favor is President Obama’s poor approval rating (42/56) among Montana voters as well as the even less favorable view of Obamacare (36/61).
The poll of 750 likely Montana voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from March 17-18. The margin of error is +/- 4%. The race is rated “Leans Republican” by The Cook Political Report.