By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
HELENA — At some point, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester will hit the panic button, right?
In nearly all polls up to this point in his re-election campaign, he’s been trailing U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, by a few points. But Rasmussen Reports, a Republican-leaning firm, provided most of them.
Over the weekend, however, a new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research on behalf of a Montana newspaper consortium found what Rasmussen has said all along: Rehberg is likely the one to beat in this snug U.S. Senate race.
In the poll of 625 registered voters conducted Sept. 17-19, Rehberg earned 45 percent of respondents, while Tester grabbed 42 percent. Mason-Dixon Polling and Research is an independent firm that conducts polling for media outlets.
Darby Libertarian Dan Cox, the wild card in the race, notched a mere 1 percent. Another 6 percent remain undecided.
Cox’s candidacy continues to raises questions for Rehberg. Libertarians typically pull votes from Republicans and an earlier poll had Cox at 8 percent, a significant portion and enough to swing the entire election.
The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points, meaning this race could still tip either way.
Six critical weeks remain until Election Day. The candidates will debate three times between now and Nov. 6.
Contact Dustin Hurst at Dustin@Watchdog.org or on Twitter @DustinHurst handle.