Skip to comments.Poll: Martz rates low; Bush rates high
Posted on 05/25/2003 5:18:50 PM PDT by JohnnyZ
HELENA - If the 2004 general election were held today, only 18 percent of Montana voters say they would vote to re-elect Republican Gov. Judy Martz, a Lee Newspapers poll shows.
Democratic challenger Brian Schweitzer would defeat Martz by a 52 percent to 24 percent margin, with 24 percent of the voters undecided, if the 2004 general election were held today, a test matchup in the poll shows. Schweitzer, the only announced Democratic candidate who narrowly lost to Republican U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns in 2000, already has raised more than $250,000 for his 2004 governor's race.
Only one in five Montana voters gives Martz a positive job performance rating.
These bleak poll numbers come as Martz, 59, is deciding whether to seek re-election next year. Martz is expected to announce her decision around the time of the state Republican Party convention, to be held in Missoula in late June. As lieutenant governor four years ago, Martz staged a come-from-behind win over Democrat Mark O'Keefe in a race where she was outspent three to one.
"I think her prospects for re-election are pretty dim," said Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll for Lee Newspapers. He said Martz's 20 percent job-approval rating is one of the lowest in the country for governors.
Another potential Republican candidate for governor, Secretary of State Bob Brown ran neck-and-neck with Schweitzer in another test run for governor in the poll. The results show Brown at 40 percent and Schweitzer at 38 percent, with 22 percent undecided. Because the margin is less than the 4 percentage point margin of error, the poll says the two candidates are about even.
"If you've got Brown in there, you've got an even-steven race, even though Schweitzer is better known because of his Senate race." Coker said. "The fact is, even-steven is good for Brown, and it shows that a Republican other than Martz can still be very competitive in the state."
Meanwhile, the poll also found that Montana voters continue to give President Bush high job approval, and a majority of voters said they would vote to re-elect him next year.
The Lee Newspapers poll, conducted May 16-19 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Here are some of the details of the poll results:
Martz re-election. The poll asked voters if the 2004 election were held today, would they vote to re-elect Republican Martz, consider voting for a Democratic challenger or definitely vote to replace Martz with a Democrat. The results showed 18 percent said they would vote to re-elect Martz, 26 percent said they would consider voting for a Democratic challenger and 49 percent would definitely vote to replace Martz with a Democrat. Seven percent of voters were undecided. There were no appreciable differences in how men and women felt on the issue.
Martz's job performance. The Lee poll asked those surveyed to rate Martz's job performance as "excellent," "pretty good," "only fair" or "poor." As with some other polls, the Lee poll combines the "excellent" and "pretty good" ratings to get a positive job performance and adds the "only poor" and "poor" totals for the negative score.
Martz received a 20 percent positive job-approval mark, with 5 percent giving her marks of "excellent" and 15 percent rating her job performance as "pretty good." Her negative job-approval rating is 79 percent - 31 percent graded it as "only fair" and 48 percent as "poor." There was little difference in the scores given by men and women polled.
In past Lee polls, Martz's positive job-performance scores topped out at 44 percent in May 2001 and December 2001. Her ratings nose-dived to 23 percent in September 2002 and rose slightly to 25 percent in December 2002.
Schweitzer vs. Martz. In that matchup, Schweitzer got 54 percent of the men's votes and 50 percent of the women's votes, while Martz got 25 percent of the men's votes and 23 percent of the women's votes. Twenty-seven percent of the undecided were women and 21 percent were men.
Brown vs. Schweitzer. In this trial heat of two Whitefish residents, Brown got 45 percent of men's votes and 35 percent of women's votes, compared to Schweitzer's 37 percent from men and 39 percent from women. A total of 18 percent of men and 26 percent of women were undecided.
Bush's job performance. Bush gets marks of "excellent" from 34 percent of Montana voters and "pretty good" from another 34 percent to give him a positive score of 68 percent, down slightly from his 70 percent score in the last Lee poll in December 2002. In the current poll, Bush's negative rating is 32 percent, with 16 percent rating his job performance as "only fair" and 16 percent as "poor." There were few disparities in ratings by men and women.
In past Lee Newspapers polls, Bush had positive job ratings of 58 percent in May 2001. That soared to 84 percent in December 2001, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bush was at 67 percent in September 2002 before rising to 70 percent in December.
Bush re-election. The pollsters asked a similar re-election question for the 2004 presidential race. It found 52 percent of Montanans said they would vote to re-elect Bush if the election were held today, while 18 percent would consider replacing him with a Democrat and 27 percent would definitely vote to replace him with a Democrat. Three percent weren't sure.
Men are more likely than women - 55 percent to 49 percent - to vote to re-elect Bush, while women are more likely - 31 percent to 23 percent - to definitely vote to replace Bush.
Bush won 58 percent of the vote in Montana in 2000, while Democrat Al Gore had 33 percent and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had 6 percent, with other candidates dividing the other 2 percent.