Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, is already looking ahead to 2012, when Democrats will have to defend 23 Senate seats and Republicans will defend just 10.
In Montana, PPP finds Democratic senator John Tester trailing Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg 48% to 46% and former GOP governor Mark Racicot 49% to 42%. Two other potential candidates--Steve Daines and Neil Livingstone--are unknown by more than three quarters of the electorate, so Tester leads Daines 48% to 37% and Livingstone 46% to 35%. Tester won his first term in 2006 by just over 3,000 votes in his race against the embattled Conrad Burns, who was tied to Jack Abramoff. Tester's approve/disapprove rating is 50%/40%.
In Virginia, Democratic senator Jim Webb, who seems unsure about a run for reelection in 2012, polls at 49% when matched up against three potential opponents. Webb leads former senator George Allen 49% to 45%, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 49% to 39%, and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling 49% to 39%. PPP suggest that Bolling may have more room for improvement:
For Bolling a large part of the problem is anonymity- 55% of voters in the state say they don't know enough about him to have an opinion positive or negative. For Cuccinelli the problem is more that voters don't like him- 39% have an unfavorable opinion of him while only 31% have a favorable one and independents split against him by a 28/42 margin.
Webb defeated George Allen in 2006 by just over 7,000 votes. His approve/disapprove rating is 43%/37%.