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Recent Polls Show Sheehy With Lead Over Rosendale

A pair of recent polls show increased name recognition and favorability for Tim Sheehy, a Republican running for one of Montana’s seats in the U.S. Senate this election cycle.

Sheehy, a first-time candidate and Belgrade business owner, is the top pick of national Republicans to take on long-time Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester in 2024. But he will likely face a Republican primary opponent in the form of Congressman Matt Rosendale, a GOP hardliner who is reportedly plotting a run for Tester’s seat, though he hasn’t publicly confirmed his intent to do so.

Previous polling showed Rosendale, a well-known quantity in Montana politics and a national figure with a growing profile, with a sizable lead over Sheehy, a relative unknown, in a hypothetical primary matchup. But a mid-November survey of 888 likely Republican primary voters conducted by GOP-affiliated polling firm Co/efficient showed almost the opposite, with Sheehy receiving 40 percent to Rosendale’s 24 percent.

That poll follows a survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters from earlier this month commissioned by a pro-Sheehy super PAC that showed Sheehy leading Rosendale 44 percent to 41 percent.

The Sheehy camp, as reported by Politico, has been on an advertising blitz since the summer. The campaign has bought more than $1.5 million in TV ad space, and the pro-Sheehy super PAC, More Jobs, Less Government, just launched a $250,000 radio buy that will promote Sheehy through Christmas.

Both of these polls should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, as should any polling that shows Rosendale in the lead. Montana, owing to its sparse population and limited telecommunications connectivity, poses some logistical challenges to pollsters. Response rates are often low, and results are full of uncertainty. Campaigns naturally promote polls that make their candidates look the best. And Rosendale, while telegraphing a Senate bid and receiving calls to run for Tester’s seat from many of his fellow Republicans, is not yet officially running a campaign, so he hasn’t matched Sheehy’s recent presence on the airwaves.

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