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The Missoulian released a poll yesterday from Mason-Dixon Research which shows Tea Party Republican challenger, Denny Rehberg, with a slight lead over incumbent Democratic Senator, Jon Tester.  Rehberg gets 48% to Tester's 45% with 6% undecided and 1% preferring Libertarian candidate, Dan Cox.  Here's the link:

Now here's a highlight:

“Usually, if an incumbent is trailing, that’s a problem,” said pollster Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll for Lee Newspapers in Montana. “(But) this is just too close to call.”

Mason-Dixon polled 625 Montana registered voters who said they are likely to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points – so Rehberg’s lead is within the margin. - The Missoulian, 9/23/12

PPP's latest Montana Senate poll, conducted September 12th, shows Tester with a slight lead:

PPP's newest poll of the Montana Senate race finds Jon Tester with a small lead over Denny Rehberg, 45-43. Libertarian Dan Cox is polling at 8%, and 3% of voters remain undecided.  This is the second survey in a row where we have found Tester with the lead. In late April he was up 48-43.
Now here's the thing that caught my attention with both Mason-Dixon and PPP's polls; they both have contrasting evidence over which candidate is leading with Independents.  Here's Mason-Dixon's analysis:
In the Tester-Rehberg matchup, Rehberg had a 47-38 advantage among those who called themselves independent. - The Missoulian, 9/23/12
Now, here's PPP's analysis:
Tipping the balance to Tester overall is a 41-33 advantage with independents. - PPP, 9/12/12
So who's really leading with Independents?  PPP's poll might be older but they polled a slightly bigger number of Likely Voters, 656 to be precise, between September 10th and 11th.

As we all know, Montana has been in the toss up category for a long time now and we've seen the lead go back and forth between Tester and Rehberg.  Both parties know this race is crucial in determining which party will control the Senate next year and we are seeing a lot of money being poured into this race and the negative ads are taking their toll:

The GOP wants this seat really badly and Karl Rove, The Koch Brothers and their Super PAC cash are doing everything in their power to defeat Tester.  The Koch Brothers can't stand him because of Tester's strong environmental voting record:

Sen. Jon Tester has been featured many times in The Billings Gazette for his continuous work for veterans. He has advocated for more available and comprehensive medical care for veterans, given long overdue citations and medals to older veterans who served honorably but were not recognized except through Tester's efforts.

He has been active in many aspects of improving life for all Americans in his Senate career. His co-sponsorship of the "Safe Chemicals Act" that Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced (S.847) supports the first time in 36 years that Congress voted to update our out-of-date chemical safety laws. This bill was co-sponsored by 24 Democratic senators from across our nation, and both Tester and Sen. Baucus were co-sponsors.

Four younger members of our family have been diagnosed with cancer in the last eight years. This bill, which will hopefully be passed by the full Senate as well as the House, will regulate the chemical industry and immediately reduce exposure to the worst of the worst chemicals that build up and persist in our bodies, breast milk and the environment. - Billings Gazette, 9/23/12

You also have Tester's Republican colleagues in the Senate and the House trying to prevent him from a second term by holding the Senate's version of the farm bill hostage:

A victory on the sportsman’s bill would boost Tester’s standing with gun owners in his tight re-election race against GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg. It also could help him secure the support of Montana Republicans planning to back GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. - Great Falls Tribune, 9/21/12
Tester's campaign has warned his constituents and supporters that the attack ads are only going to get worse, especially with the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's American Crossroads pouring money in to defeat Tester:
Not sure if you were following, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads GPS, backed by special interest strategist Karl Rove, have been attacking Jon on Montana TV at the same time.

Combined, those two special interest groups spent more than $1 million in a single week.

If that's not a good enough reason to keep fighting, I don't know what is.

We have a plan to beat these guys for the people of Montana -- and it doesn't involve million dollar checks. It involves 1,500 of our great online supporters giving $15 or more to help us hit our $150,000 goal before the FEC deadline on Sunday. Contribute $15 today.

This campaign is running at full steam. We're tied up in all the polls. Long days, hard work, and a little determination are the hallmarks of an election year September. And we're in this thing all the way.

At this point, it's all about momentum. We've got it. And if we continue to get Jon's back, we will carry this race all the way through November.

But a million dollars a week is the kind of money that could turn a close race -- if we can't fight back. And thanks to Citizens United, they can do it whenever they want.

Hitting this goal isn't about vanity -- it's about having the muscle to fight when we get hit with a million dollar attack. Click here to contribute $15 or more to hit that goal in the next 7 days.

Saddle up, ladies and gents. We're heading into the final stretch.

Thank you for all of your support for Jon.

Preston Elliott
Campaign Manager
Montanans for Tester

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If we are going to keep the Senate blue, we need to hold onto this seat.  Tester may not be perfect but Rehberg would just contribute to more Republican obstructionism and would contribute to stall economic recovery, just like he's been doing in the House, to prevent Obama from a second term.  Let's fight back against Karl Rove and the Chamber Of Commerce and help Senator Tester win:

2:25 PM PT: David Nir highlighted this poll in today's Daily Kos Elections post this morning.  Nir points out this this is Mason-Dixon's first poll on this race so there is no trendline with Mason-Dixon's polling on this race.  PPP has more of a trend line because they have done more polling on this race.

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunting and Fishing Kos.

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