Poll: Tester, Rehberg Tied in Montana

Poll: Tester, Rehberg Tied in Montana

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - October 16, 2012

In one of the most consequential races this cycle, Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is running neck-and-neck with his Republican rival, Rep. Denny Rehberg, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Each candidate attracts 48 percent of the support from likely voters in the Rasmussen Reports survey. Just 2 percent say they are undecided, while 3 percent chose a third party candidate. Tester, who won in 2006 by just a few thousand votes, has long been considered vulnerable in this red state. But the first-term senator has gained traction since mid-August, when his opponent led by four points.

The outcome of the Tester-Rehberg matchup could help determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Republicans need to gain four seats (three if Mitt Romney is elected) to gain control of the upper chamber, and have been eying Montana as a potential pickup. The RCP Average finds Rehberg, a six-term congressman, leading by just 0.3 percentage points.

Likely voters have a slightly more favorable view of Tester than they do his challenger: 52 percent view the incumbent favorably, while 45 percent view him unfavorably. Rehberg’s score is slightly under water: 45 percent view him favorably, while 49 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.

The candidates appear to be bucking a national trend when it comes to party affiliation and gender: Rehberg leads among women, 51 percent to 46 percent. Tester leads among men, 50 percent to 45 percent.

Non-partisan voters appear to be boosting Tester. Both candidates attract ample support from their respective bases, but 58 percent of those who identify with neither party back Tester.

Rasmussen surveyed 500 likely voters on Oct. 14. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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