HELENA – In Montana’s high-profile, big-money U.S. Senate contest, Republican challenger Denny Rehberg continues to hold a slight lead over Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a new Lee Newspapers poll shows.

The poll showed 49 percent for Rehberg, who is Montana’s U.S. House representative, and 45 percent for Tester, the first-term incumbent. Only 1 percent said they’re voting for Libertarian Dan Cox and just 5 percent were undecided.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., conducted the poll early last week for Lee Newspapers, interviewing 625 registered Montana voters who said they are likely to vote in Tuesday’s election.

The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Rehberg’s lead is only a single percentage point different than what he had six weeks ago in a Lee Newspapers poll, which showed him with a 48-45 advantage over Tester.

“Rehberg’s just kind of kept that little lead on Tester,” said Brad Coker, managing director for Mason-Dixon. “The general rule is it’s harder for an incumbent to make up ground with undecided voters. Here, you have two incumbents.”

Coker also said the low showing for Libertarian Cox is not unusual.

“In a high-profile race like this, I don’t think people are inclined to waste their votes,” he said. “When your vote could have an effect on the race, I think most people are less inclined to throw it out, unless they’re true Libertarians.”

In the past week, a group sympathetic to Tester has financed TV ads telling voters to support Cox.

The Tester-Rehberg matchup has lived up to all expectations of being a close, hard-fought and expensive battle. The candidates have raised and spent about $20 million between themselves, and outside groups on both sides have spent at least another $10 million and probably much more, political observers have said.

Rehberg and his allies have relentlessly criticized Tester as a shill for President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in the state. Tester has fought back by saying he’s an independent voice for Montana who can work both sides of the aisle, while trying to portray Rehberg as a conservative ideologue who wants to cut popular government programs.

The poll showed strong support for Rehberg in Billings and eastern Montana. The two men were virtually even in the Great Falls and Missoula-Kalispell areas, but Tester held a solid edge in the Butte-Helena area.

Rehberg also led among men who were polled, by 52 percent to 42 percent, and Independents, 47 percent to 40 percent. Women were evenly split between the candidates, with 47 percent for each.

Among those polled, self-identified Democrats and Republicans were almost unanimously for their respective candidate.

The poll also showed Rehberg and Tester with nearly identical positives and negatives. Both men had a positive rating from 42 percent of those surveyed, while Rehberg had a negative rating from 40 percent and Tester had a negative rating from 43 percent.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or at mike.dennison@lee.net.

(15) comments

dsrobins
dsrobins

It will be so sweet to see both Hick Rill and boozehound Rehberg go down in defeat tomorrow evening.

Still Here
Still Here

Well stupid time is about over. Montana Muralist, thanks for your thoughts.

All you Denny Rehberg supporters and again Mitt supporter Oh well. The Montana people are now equal to the Bible Belt Red Necks. They have sold the farm. They have bought what the Big Money has told them to believe, They have put on their Phone Baloney Golden helmets and are looking for the land of Bliss.
The talking loud mouths on blab radio will find another conspiracy to come up with. You Cons have swallowed what Wall Street, Big Oil and the Investment Bankers have told them what to believe. They have been able to change history. They have bought another election like they did with the Bush years.
I hope you hug your teenagers, I will bet the a Romney Administration will be paying off his Military Establishment handlers with a new war with in year.
All the Big Money boys will be coming into Washington with their "To Do Lists" that they bought with there Million dollar donations.
The Religious Right will be out to change society, Back will be back room abortions, the rich can go over seas.
Multi Billions dollar profit Health Insurance and the other Bloated "Lack of Health Care" companies can go on delivering over priced poor quality lack of health care.
I like the fact that the con job that we call "Wall Street" will do great under Romney, (thanks I can use a little more money). But the rich will get richer and the rest of you poor folk will be chewing on crumbs. Get used to it.

libertarian
libertarian

Rehberg dug is own grave with all those votes to increase government and the debt. Now Rehberg wants us to believe his more conservative then Dan Cox. Rehberg is a moderate liberal. We need to get rid of both Tester and Rehberg.

Jimmy
Jimmy

You can vote for Denny, Just don't boat with Denny.

Roger
Roger

That's stupid - Denny wasn't driving the boat, goofus.

onemontana
onemontana

MontanaMuralist - you need to take a step back. Tester is no better than Rehberg. They are both the same. Both desire to be lifetime politicians. All you have to know about Tester is he did not even win his own county is the last election. While I do not know the stats on Rehberg I would venture to guess its the same.

PapaBear
PapaBear

Ah, the angry left. What they fail to discern is Montana's disdain for a "fundamental transformation of America" promised by Tester's buddy Obama. Obama tried, driving us deep into debt, bowing to Saudi Kings, piling on a huge new entitlement that can never be paid for, and putting our children and grandchildren under a massive burden. Tester has been with BHO all the way. Just pray that the GOP can take the Senate away from Reid, Durbin, Schumer, and yes, old Jon Tester.

idiot state
idiot state

You like the trajectory of your health insurance premiums? Wait'll OBAMACARE gets implemented in full force (thanks to the help of politicians like JON TESTER) and you'll not only have SKYROCKETING PREMIUMS but RATIONED HEALTHCARE to boot!! With all due respect, someone like Jon Tester's nothing but a waterboy for the Obama administration. With its liberal agenda.

Bruce Hammer
Bruce Hammer

All signs pointing to a good day for conservatives on Nov. 6. Not sure if this is a sign of approval for us, or just massive rejection of goofball liberalism. Either way, we'll take it!

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

"Why is it okay for Montanans to pay for obamacare ( Affordable Health Care Act) but not Nebraskans?" What does that mean? More of the myth Rehberg handlers are spinning? More of the lies that you fools are buying from this political hack Rehberg who is in this to get a post office named after him. The fact is you are paying now no matter where you live and that is where we get the high cost of medical care, that is not the best in the world I might add...Rehberg is fighting for the insurance industry and the HMO's. Tester is trying to find a compromise and Montanans are going throw him under the bus cause they are not smart enough to vote against their own interests. I love my state but to take a good man like Tester who really does try and compromise is ridiculous. And stupid I might add. No one should be voting for Rehberg based on his support of Citizens United....undisclosed unlimited campaign financing. Obstruction in Congress the last couple years and taking womens rights away etc...the list goes on and on that Rehberg is the but boy of the elite big money guys. What makes me angry is the number of stupid people in this state that buy in to their Fox News handlers ( fair and balanced for the way we want you to see things regardless of facts) and can not see the danger Rehbergt really poses. This state was founded on the abuse of eastern billionaires who bought elections and it is very discouraging to see we have learned little since those days!!! It is now clear a hack like Rehberg who really does not care about anyone but himself and his rich handlers is the pick over a guy who tries to find middle ground. Rehberg will be a one term ...and many of us will start fighting him the day he is elected jhust like you did against Obama Denny...and the difference will be...we have facts not Faux News to guide us. Vote Tester if you want fairness and clear thinking.

snowyowl
snowyowl

Are Montana seniors to be fooled into voting against their own interests? . Rehberg was caught on camera saying he wanted to totally phase out Social Security and blatantly denies it anyway. Look at Paul Ryan and his Ryan Plan which he got passed in the House with Rehberg's help in 2011. Good thing it's not law -- yet. People under 55 years of age would no longer have the Medicare they have had coming all their lives, they would get a voucher instead to go buy insurance but the value would go down over time to nothing. Anybody willing to do that to people under 55 can't have much respect for the program in general.

Pistol
Pistol

snowyowl, your not as wise as an owl. Rehberg didn't say to phase out Social Security. He said Social Security can not survive in it's current form. The medicare use is similar! Ryan's plan is to give people under 55 the option to continue as is, or be given a voucher for what they have paid into medicare, and shop the open market. Bottomline is if OBama is reelected emplyers in some cases are either cut back on hours or drop benefit coverages. In some ways I hope OBama does get reelected, and I can sit back and watch the foreclosures, and higher unemployment. Major companies have already stated this. Smaller companies have also indicated they will have to drop benefits or cut people back to part time positions.

sallymander
sallymander

If fixing SS and Medicare is so pressing then why wait ten years for the 55 year olds to become eligible?

Oh yeah, I forgot it's because people 55 years and older are more likely to vote.

AL KIPF
AL KIPF

Tester is a dangerous political hack that poses a threat to Montanans. Why is it okay for Montanans to pay for obamacare but not Nebraskans???

MTminded
MTminded

I'm quite certain there are laws against purchasing Nebraskans.

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