MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer
HELENA A large majority of voters approve of the job Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer has done, but the biggest share still plans to vote for a Republican in their local state House races next month, results of a poll released today show. The poll, conducted by the Montana State University-Billings political science department, sampled 409 registered voters who said they were very likely to cast ballots in the November election. The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 10-12 and Oct. 14-15 and has a margin of error of 5 percentage points. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said they approved of the job Schweitzer has done, while only 12 percent disapproved and 11 percent said they were undecided. The same poll a year ago showed Schweitzer with a 69 percent approval rating. In the race for U.S. House, Republican incumbent Rep. Denny Rehberg leads Democratic challenger Monica Lindeen 53 percent to 30 percent, with Libertarian Mike Fellows garnering 2 percent, and 15 percent of respondents undecided. Respondents were asked whether they planned to vote for a Republican or Democrat in their Montana state House race. Forty-three percent said they intended to vote for the Republican candidate, while 38 percent said they would vote for the Democrat, 14 percent were undecided, 3 percent said they would choose neither party and 3 percent said “other.” Respondents were also asked their opinions on several initiatives on the Nov. 7 ballot. Initiative 151, which would raise the state minimum wage to $6.15 an hour and include annual cost-of-living increases, appeared to garner the most support, with 76 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the measure, 14 percent opposed it and 9 percent were undecided. Initiative 153, which would prevent state government officials from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office, also appeared to win strong support. Seventy-one percent said they favored it, while 18 percent were against and 11 percent were undecided. Constitutional Amendment 43, which changes title of the state auditor to state insurance commissioner was opposed by 44 percent, supported by 26 percent and 30 percent were undecided. Pollsters also asked voters their views on several issues recently making headlines. Most, 74 percent, support the building of new oil refineries in the state, while 14 percent opposed any such development and 12 percent Were undecided, the poll found. Only 20 percent said they support increased coal-bed methane development, 61 percent said more environmental study is needed, 11 percent opposed development and 8 percent were undecided. Most, 58 percent, said public school curriculum isn’t good enough, but they were split on whether public schools are adequately funded. Forty-eight percent said there are not and 45 percent said they are. Seven percent said they were overfunded.