Schweitzer Out Front in Governor’s Race

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A new poll finds Democratic incumbent Brian Schweitzer in front as he faces a challenge by Republican Roy Brown in the race for governor.

The poll conducted for the Lee Newspapers of Montana found 55 percent of the likely Montana voters who were questioned back Schweitzer, compared to 30 percent for Brown. The same results emerged in a poll conducted six months ago.

In the latest survey, 13 percent of respondents said they had not decided on a candidate.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., conducted the telephone poll last Monday through Wednesday, questioning 625 people registered to vote in Montana. The poll’s margin of error is 4 percentage points.

Ninety-four percent of the respondents identifying themselves as Democrats said they intend to vote for Schweitzer. Nineteen percent of Republicans backed him, as did 58 percent of independents.

Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they knew Schweitzer’s name and had a positive opinion of it. Thirty-five percent said they did not recognize the name of Brown, a legislator from Billings.

Candidates challenging Schweitzer and Brown in Montana’s June 3 primary election have not raised much campaign money, according to campaign-finance reports.

Through May 17, Schweitzer had raised nearly $1.4 million to Brown’s $352,328.

Democratic challenger Don Pogreba of Helena had raised $2,210. Democrat Bill Fischer did not submit a financial report to the state political practices commissioner. Republican Larry H. Steele of Great Falls raised $2,043.

Also in polling for Lee, Mason-Dixon found Montanans pessimistic about the direction in which the country is heading, but comparatively upbeat about Montana’s direction.

Seventy-three percent of those polled said the United States is on the wrong track. Seventeen percent said the country is moving in the right direction and 10 percent were not sure.

When questioned about Montana, 60 percent said the state is headed in the right direction, 25 percent said Montana is on the wrong track and 15 percent were not sure.

In a December poll, 56 percent of those surveyed said they thought the country was headed in the wrong direction and 64 percent said the state was on the right track.

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