CHEYENNE -- A new Casper Star-Tribune poll finds Rita Meyer and Matt Mead leading a crowded Republican field for the Aug. 17 gubernatorial primary election.
Meyer, the current state auditor, and Mead, a former U.S. attorney, polled 27 percent and 24 percent, respectively, among likely Republican voters. Meyer also led all seven Republican candidates in name recognition (91 percent) and favorability rating (50 percent).
But Meyer certainly isn't the clear favorite: Her 3 percent lead over Mead is within the poll's plus-or-minus 5 percent margin of error.
House Speaker Colin Simpson polled 17 percent; former state legislator and state Department of Agriculture director Ron Micheli followed with support from 12 percent. Alan Kousoulos, a Wyoming Department of Transportation shop supervisor from Cody, polled 2 percent.
While 88 percent of likely Republican voters recognize Simpson, a majority (53 percent) have no opinion about him.
According to the poll, 13 percent of likely Republican voters have an unfavorable opinion about Micheli -- the highest of any Republican candidate.
Eighteen percent of voters were undecided, according to the survey.
Meyer said she was happy to hear the poll results, adding they squared with her "gut instinct" of how the race is going.
But, she said, the poll numbers are only "a shot in a piece of time."
"I always say it's light years between now and election day," Meyer said. "We'll simply continue to work hard ... and meet as many people as possible."
Mead said he was "very pleased" to see the poll results.
"It's sort of what we've been feeling, is that we're in a statistical dead heat with Rita," he said. "I think we've got to just keep working as hard as we have been and reaching out to try to earn the support of undecided voters."
Simpson said he wasn't surprised to hear the results, saying the outcome was "largely reflective" of how long each candidate has been airing television and radio ads. Simpson only began airing TV ads on Thursday.
"Those other candidates have been up for a week or two or more. And I'm sure we'll be doing great with our advertising," Simpson said. "And we will win -- we'll change those numbers."
Bill Cubin, Micheli's campaign manager, said in a media release that he questioned the accuracy of the poll.
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"We just started our TV and radio campaign with messages I know voters agree with. I also know that this election is very volatile and I doubt that most people have completely settled on a candidate right now," Cubin said. "We are going to continue to work hard to the very end and expect to surprise people on election day."
The poll of 400 likely Republican voters in Wyoming was conducted July 26-28 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc.
How the poll was done
The Casper Star-Tribune poll was conducted July 26-28 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. A total of 625 registered Wyoming voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. All said they vote regularly in state elections.
There were 382 Republicans (61 percent), 172 Democrats (28 percent) and 71 Independents (11 percent). Pollsters interviewed 319 women, or 51 percent of the sample, and 306 men, or 49 percent.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender sampling.
The survey also included an over-sampling of 400 likely Democratic primary voters and 400 likely Republican primary voters. All indicated they were likely to vote in their respective Aug. 17 primary elections. Only the questions relative to the primary races were asked of these additional voters. The margin of error for each primary voter sample is plus or minus 5 percent.
Those interviewed were selected by random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was used to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter turnout by county.
Here is the breakdown:
* Northwest Wyoming: 150 interviews in Big Horn, Washakie, Hot Springs, Fremont, Sublette, Teton and Park counties.
* Northeast Wyoming: 120 interviews in Converse, Niobrara, Weston, Crook, Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan counties.
* Southern Wyoming: 170 interviews in Goshen, Platte, Albany, Carbon, Sweetwater, Uinta and Lincoln counties.
* Natrona County: 80 interviews.
* Laramie County: 105 interviews.