HELENA — Republican Steve Daines has an eight-point lead over Democrat Kim Gillan in the race for Montana’s open U.S. House seat, a Gazette State Poll shows — but the poll also reveals that big chunks of voters don’t recognize the name of either candidate.

Of those surveyed by the poll earlier this week, 46 percent said they’re voting for Daines and 38 percent said they favor Gillan. Two percent said they would vote for Libertarian Dave Kaiser of Victor and 14 percent are undecided.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., conducted the poll for the Gazette State Bureau, surveying 625 registered and likely Montana voters by telephone earlier this week. The poll has margin of error of four percentage points.

Daines, 50, is a former business executive from Bozeman who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor four years ago.

Gillan, 60, a workforce training coordinator and state senator from Billings, is making her first run for statewide office.

Daines, Gillan and Kaiser are vying for Montana’s only U.S. House seat, which is being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who’s running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Jon Tester.

The Senate contest between Tester and Rehberg and the race for Montana’s open governor’s seat have been grabbing most of the headlines this election season, while the U.S. House race has been flying largely under the radar.

The poll results reflected that lack of publicity for the U.S. House race, as 49 percent of those polled said they didn’t recognize Gillan’s name and 28 percent said they didn’t recognize Daines.

Interviews with voters who were polled confirmed that the candidates are a blank slate, as far as many voters are concerned.

“It’s something I haven’t really heard a whole lot about; I’m still kind of ambivalent about that one,” said Lorraine Johnson, a retiree from Plentywood. “I’d kind of like to hear what they’re standing for.”

Several voters interviewed said they’d be deciding the race based on party affiliation.

“I haven’t paid much attention to that race, but I know I’m going to vote Democrat,” said Julie Buckley, of Butte. “I’m extremely old-fashioned, and I would rather slit my throat than vote Republican.”

Carol Finnicum, of Joliet, said she’d be voting for Gillan, because “I just feel that she has the interest of people like me, particularly as a woman, in her interest.”

On the other side, Gary Rose, of Kalispell, said he thinks Daines is “the better-qualified candidate, and, philosophically, I prefer his positions.”

Daines enjoys a considerable financial edge in the race, with about 10 times the money in his campaign fund as Gillan had in midsummer. He had about $850,000 compared to Gillan’s $88,000.

Gillan rolled out her first TV ad a few weeks ago, but the Daines campaign put up two of its own ads as well, and said it planned to be on the air with advertisements through Election Day.

One of the few bright spots for Gillan in the poll results was her support among women — they gave her a slight edge, at 45 percent to 43 percent. Independents, however, favored Daines by a 15-point margin, and men who were polled favored Daines by a 19-point margin.

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(11) comments

fidlr
fidlr

Steve Daines is undoubtedly a bright enough young fellow, but he totally lacks legislative experience. That was the case when Conrad Burns became a senator as well. Burns took his first 6 year term simply learning how to function as a senator. He voted the party line on all issues and if that is all voters want from Daines then by all means go for him. Jon Tester had vast experience in the MT legislature and hit the ground running when he was elected. He introduced several bills, was an active member of committees, and even presided over the US Senate during his first term. Daines will not know how to do any similar things in the House. Kim Gillan, on the other hand, has extensive legislative experience. Like Tester she will be able to immediately be a very active advocate for Montana if she is elected to Congress. That appears to be a major difference between these two candidates.

Regular Guy
Regular Guy

Because of Citizens United, our democracy is now up for sale, with races going to the highest bidder (Daines), not the most qualified (Gillan).

MyOpinion
MyOpinion

When I was polled, the caller couldn't even pronounce the names of rehberg or arntsen. Think that had anything to do with it?

billy banger
billy banger

If you want more of the same old republican deadlock then vote for daines. We need to have another do nothing congress with the lowest approval rating ever.

Leonard Dolan
Leonard Dolan

Either one of the candidates will change nothing in DC. However, how long will it be before they get corrupted by the system?

Banksy
Banksy

Who?

whatabout
whatabout

Steve Daines is the Republican candidate who will most likely vote with his party to transform Medicare into a voucher system, which will leave seniors with having to pay an extra $6400 a year, lose them the prescription coverage they have now, and put them at the mercy of having to fight denials by private insurance companies. If you want to be safe from that, vote Democrat in this race. There are better ways to reform Medicare than this.

BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest
BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest

Daines is not qualified.

One_man's_opinion
One_man's_opinion

Kim Gillan voted for House Bill 198 in the closing minutes of the last Montana legislative session. That bill gave sweeping eminent domain powers to private transmission ventures, including foreign ventures. Such ventures can now condemn families' land for private gain. The facilities those ventures build can then go on to reduce property values to the extent that families become "upside down" in their mortgages. On election day, I will restrain my normally Democratic sympathies and leave Kim Gillan's oval unblackened. Gillan = government overreach.

2 More Cents
2 More Cents

Listen up voters !! Ms. Gillan's actions during the last Montana legislative sesion are not for the people of Montana. Too often her actions benefited local governments and industries, and not the people of Montana.

It's a dirtly rotten shame that the voters in this State do not have a Democratic candidate to vote for, but they really do not.

Montana does not want a Gillan in Washington representing the government instead of the people.

ilivea
ilivea

I was curious who was voting for Rehberg so I read the entire MSUB report. First it said undergraduate students interviewed people but then it said their computer automated system did the work (i.e., lack of scientific clarity standards). Further it stated it was "random phone calls" by both land line and cell phone (43+ %) with no mention whatsoever what populations were in the group who were interviewed. Anything computer generated can have problems (e.g, "random" mistakenly taking only Billings households, or just larger towns, just verizon not other companies, etc. ). This also shows lack of scientific poll reporting standards. Political polls can, and have been highly "influenced" by certain "fraudulent" people for centuries. Thus without FACTUAL DATA it is the wise thing to do to ignore the poll "results" until a valid poll is conducted and reported with valid facts. Shame MSUB. Many other facts listed, but without these all "data" (?) is unreliable.

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