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Mead and Gosar

Republican Gov. Matt Mead, left, and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Pete Gosar.

Republican Gov. Matt Mead has a 25-point lead over Democrat Pete Gosar in the gubernatorial race, according to a new poll commissioned by the Casper Star-Tribune.

Fifty-three percent of 625 voters surveyed last week by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, of Jacksonville, Florida, said they would vote for Mead. Twenty-eight percent said they would vote for Gosar.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.

Mead’s numbers show he’s a popular incumbent, said Jim King, a political science professor at the University of Wyoming.

“I wouldn't characterize this election as Gosar failing but Mead succeeding,” he said. “Running against a popular incumbent is an uphill challenge.”

Thirteen percent of voters were undecided, but Gosar has little chance of winning Nov. 4, King said.

“Even if all the currently undecided voters opted for Gosar, he would still be far short of Mead's current standing,” he said. “Basically, the only chance Gosar has is a sensational revelation concerning Mead that would cause a very substantial shift away from him. There doesn't appear to be anything like that on the horizon.”

Gosar said the only poll he’s worried about is the one on election day.

He noted that the poll was conducted before a series of debates throughout the state, starting with an Oct. 9 forum at Casper College hosted by the college and the Star-Tribune.

At the debates, voters can see the differences between him and Mead, Gosar said.

“My campaign will continue to be out there and visible and engaged,” he said.

Mead said the poll numbers are exciting.

He believes that a handful of initiatives have stuck a chord with Wyomingites.

“One, I think in my time in office we’ve addressed issues such as the energy strategy, water strategy, broadband initiative,” he said. “We have more people employed now. The economy is doing well, and issues such as suicide and homeless, (we are) trying to tackle those issues.”

Name recognition

The poll found that Mead has more favorable name recognition than Gosar.

Mead had a 49 percent favorable name recognition. Gosar had 27 percent.

Only 2 percent of voters didn’t recognize Mead’s name, but 29 percent didn’t recognize Gosar’s.

That’s no surprise to King.

“Mead's been in office four years, with frequent coverage by the state's media,” he said. “Gosar's only prior exposure was as the losing candidate in the 2010 primary. The imbalance in recognition reflects the imbalance in media coverage.”

National perspective

Nineteen GOP governors are running for re-election this fall. Mead is polling better than 10 of them, said Eric Ostermeier, a research associate for the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“He’s kind of in this middle position with a half-dozen other governors, like Butch Otter (of Idaho), Terry Branstad (of Iowa), Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, Dennis Daugaard in neighboring South Dakota and Brian Sandoval even, in Nevada, where they’re poised to win,” he said.

Mead is polling lower than in the past two election cycles, which broke records, Ostermeier said.

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In 2010, Mead won with 65.7 percent, the highest percentage of the vote for a first-term governor in Wyoming’s history, Ostermeier said.

In 2006, then-incumbent Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal received 70 percent of the vote, which breaks the record for gubernatorial victories in Wyoming, Ostermeier said.

Third-party candidates

Three percent of respondents said they would vote for independent Don Wills. Another 3 percent said they’d vote for Libertarian Dee Cozzens.

Wills also noted that the poll was before the Casper debate.

“I’m not discouraged in the slightest,” he said.

Cozzens said he isn’t surprised. It is expensive to run a campaign, and he never planned to spend much.

“That means I need to really kick it into gear at the debate tomorrow night,” he said of a Thursday gubernatorial debate on Wyoming PBS.

Local voters

Ted Lapis, of Sheridan, told Mason-Dixon Polling and Research last week that he didn’t know who he would vote for. On Tuesday, he said he would probably vote for Gosar.

“I see Gosar as being more inclined to protect the public’s access of public land, and I think he’s probably not in the pocket of Peabody and Arch,” he said.

Judy Foote, of Casper, told the pollster she would vote for Mead.

“I think he’s done a good job getting our minerals and oil known throughout the world,” she said. “I think he’s done a good job with that. I think he’s done a good job for Wyoming.”

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Reach political reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

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