HELENA — The race for governor is about even and within the margin of error, with Democrat Steve Bullock receiving 44 percent of the likely vote to Republican Rick Hill’s 43 percent, a new Gazette State Poll taken this week shows.

It also found that 11 percent of the likely voters remain undecided, while 2 percent favor Libertarian Ron Vandevender.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, but it is higher for any subgroups such as region or gender.

From Monday through Wednesday, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., polled 625 registered Montana voters who said they were likely to vote if the November election were held today.

A separate question in the poll asked voters if they recognized two major party candidates’ names and if so, whether they have a favorable, unfavorable or neutral opinion of the candidate.

Bullock, Montana’s attorney general, had higher favorable and lower unfavorable ratings than Hill. For Bullock, 42 percent of voters had a favorable opinion, to 23 percent unfavorable, with 33 percent having a neutral opinion and 2 percent not recognizing his name.

Hill received a favorable opinion from 32 percent of voters and an unfavorable one from 31 percent, while 31 percent had neutral ones and 6 percent didn’t’ recognize his name.

“In the governor’s race, I was kind of struck by Hill’s negatives and Bullock being slightly ahead,” said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. That may be the Democrats’ best opportunity.”

In the separate matchup for governor, here was the breakdown by various groupings:

-- Gender: The poll found 49 percent of men favoring Hill to 39 percent backing Bullock, with 9 percent undecided and 3 percent for Vandevender.

Women, however, back Bullock over Hill by a 49 percent to 37 percent, with 13 percent undecided and Vandevender getting 1 percent.

-- Political-party identification. Among Democrats, Bullock leads Hill 89 percent to 4 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

Meanwhile, among Republicans, Hill registered a 79 percent to 7 percent lead over Bullock, with 11 percent undecided and 3 percent for Vandevender.

Among self-described independents, Hill got 43 percent of the vote to 38 percent for Bullock, with 15 percent undecided.

By region, Hill outpaced Bullock in the Eastern Montana and Billings and southeastern Montana media markets, while Bullock had leads in the Butte-Helena-Bozeman and Missoula-Kalispell markets. The Great Falls market was about a tossup. Here were the specifics:

-- Eastern Montana, 15 counties: Hill had 56 percent to Bullock’s 29 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

--Billings and southeastern Montana, 11 counties: Hill led Bullock 54 percent to 36 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

--Great Falls and northcentral Montana, 12 counties: Bullock had 45 percent to Hill’s 44 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

--Butte-Helena-Bozeman areas, 10 counties: Bullock led Hill by 51 percent to 34 percent, with 12 percent undecided and Vandevender getting 3 percent.

--Missoula-Kalispell area, eight counties: Results showed Bullock at 45 percent to Hill’s 40 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Vandevender had 4 percent.

Interviews with some voters who were polled reflected the sharp division for governor.

“I’m a strong supporter of Steve Bullock,” said Cathy Kendall, a retired state government employee from Helena. “I am familiar with his work as attorney general. I appreciate his vision for the state. His position on economic development is more than just supporting the extractive industries. He’s got a moderate approach to also protecting the natural resources of this state.”

Gary Rose, of Kalispell, a retired school facilities and transportation manger, saw it differently: “I think they both have some issues, but I have to go with Hill because I think he’s going to develop our resources and get the economy rolling.”

Carol Finnicun, of Joliet, a former insurance worker, said she won’t be voting for Hill “because I remember when Rick Hill was in Congress and I really don’t have any interest in giving him my support.”

Mary Davis of Conner said she’ll be voting for Hill.

“As attorney general, (Bullock) hasn’t done anything to correct a lot of the wrongs,” Davis said.

Locations

More from billingsgazette.com

(12) comments

BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest
BillingsCapitolofNewOldWest

Bullock is great. Hill is over the hill

billmillerjr
billmillerjr

hill is at 57 and bull lock in in the 30's-----

Penelope
Penelope

Actually Steve is 46.

Regular Guy
Regular Guy

More people prefer a Republican legislature? Wow. They must have been so entertained by the circus that was the last legislative session that they want more.

Cowboy Fred
Cowboy Fred

This coming from a guy that buys into "Hope And Change," that's priceless!

2012
2012

Hill is great, Bullock, is just more liberal Bull....

Just thinking
Just thinking

Can anyone give me some specific examples of legislation Hill sponsored and got passed for Montana -- not just a list of generic election pitches? I'm old enough to remember him in Congress, but I can't think of anything he got passed.

I'm much less impressed with Rehberg -- he's seemed to have coasted in his political career for the most part. Lobbyist to Helena, then legislator, then Lt. Governor (the best-paid job with the lowest expectations -- nothing to do except show up for C-list public events that the Governor can't attend?) Then he's sponsored 3 bills that have actually passed in the past 3 years - 2 to name post offices. Then show up and vote no and collect his paycheck every other week. Nice $184,000/year job if you can get it. (Unfortunately, I voted for him 3 of the 4 times -- so don't go calling me names).

libertarian
libertarian

Hill has too much baggage and Bullock is an insider like Hill. So it's either the Libertarian or None Of The Above.

alex
alex

I can't believe that the party of family values would even support Rick Hill and his philandering ways. I know the Democrats have Max Baucus, who also had a wife and a girlfriend, but they don't claim to be the party of family values. So what gives? Are Republicans just turning their heads and voting, or better yet, holding their noses and voting, or do they just ignore Rick Hill's past. That's not why I wouldn't vote for him...he balanced the work comp budget on the backs of the workers (pun intended). That's a good enough reason for me.

billy banger
billy banger

Anyone that thinks we need another tea party candidate like Hill just look at the bills last sess
ion and vote democrat. Here are those bills
:1. Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear (Senate Bill 112)
2. Create fully-armed militia in every town (House Bill 278)
3. Allow legislators to carry weapons in the Capitol (Senate Bill 279)
4. Create an 11 person panel with authority to nullify all federal laws (House Bill 382)
5 Allow guns in schools (House Bill 558)
6. Eliminate educational requirements for persons seeking job of State Superintendent of Schools (HB 154)
7. Lift nuclear ban for purpose of building a nuclear reactor in the Flathead Valley (House Bill 326)
8. Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations (Senate Joint Resolution 2)
9. Eliminate all state incentives for developing wind power (House Bill 244)
10. Omit Barack Obama’s name from the 2012, ballot because his father was born outside of America (House Bill 205)(this guy was on CNN this week)
11. Compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce (House Bill 438)
12. Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations (Senate Bill 114)
13. Legalize hunting with silencers (House Bill 174)
14. Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, churches and banks (House Bill 384)
15. Eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)
16. Require the federal government to prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully aquired. (House Bill 506)
17. Officially designate the “Code of the West” as the “Code of Montana” (Senate Bill 216)
18. Declare that global warming is good. (House Bill 549)

Mother's Worry
Mother's Worry

I can't believe Hill has guts enough to be running; his following goes to show that the conservative tea-potty BS is a cancer on evolved society.

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.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.