The first statewide poll conducted in Wyoming’s U.S. House race shows Democrat Gary Trauner, a Wilson resident, in a statistical dead heat with Republican Cynthia Lummis.
The poll showed Trauner garnering 41 percent of the vote to Lummis’ 40 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The remaining 19 percent of voters said they were undecided.
“To me the importance of these numbers is that our message over the last year and a half is getting through to people,” Trauner said. “But it is a long road, and I don’t put much stock in polling.”
Trauner led all candidates in name recognition, with 80 percent, with Lummis trailing at 70 percent, followed by Republican Tom Sansonetti with 56 percent. Sansonetti, who was a finalist for the U.S. Senate seat held now held by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, recently announced he would not run for the seat.
Wyoming GOP chairman Fred Parady said he interpreted the figures to mean that Trauner had lost ground since the 2006 general election when he garnered about 49 percent of the popular vote. He also thought Lummis’ 70 percent name recognition was a good starting point.
“He ran a statewide race two years ago and Ms. Lummis hasn’t run a statewide race in six years,” Parady said. “I think the strength in those numbers is something she can build on.”
The figures are a drastic change from when Trauner challenged U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin in 2006. He began with name recognition figures in the single digits, the Democrat said.
“It is not going to change my basic strategy of going out and meeting people because that is the best way to let people know you care and want to listen to them,” he said. “But I want to find ways to get to bigger groups – affinity groups – whether it is the mining industry, the energy industry or teachers. And now that I am better known, I have a better capability of doing that.”
Mason-Dixon Polling and Research conducted the poll, commissioned by the Casper-Star Tribune, by calling 625 registered voters between Jan. 18 and 21.
Among Democrats, 83 percent supported Trauner, but perhaps the biggest boost for the entrepreneur came from Republicans and independents; among GOP voters, 23 percent said they support Trauner and another 23 percent were undecided, among independents those figures rose to 37 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
“I’ll let other people think about what those numbers mean,” he said. “I just want people to realize we are competitive.”
Besides strong poll numbers, Trauner said he expects to have the funds he needs to run a competitive campaign.
Trauner said expects to file his quarterly financing report with the Federal Election Commission this week and, though he would not reveal the exact size of his war chest, he was excited about his fundraising to date.
“We are working hard to have the resources we need and feel pretty good about where we are right now,” Trauner said.
Much of the money has been donated unsolicited, and he has not held an official fundraiser yet, he said.
Trauner has not started intensive campaigning, he said.
“I have been focusing on getting the resources I need early so I don’t get behind the eight ball late,” he said. “I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on what I can do differently and what I can do to win.”
Soon, Trauner will take the money raised by the campaign team and hit the campaign trail, following a similar strategy of going door-to-door statewide to talk to people. In his first campaign, Trauner claimed to have knocked on more than 15,000 doors in an effort to gain name recognition against Cubin.
“Clearly its time to get it going and start getting back out there,” he said. “People are tired of politicians that say one thing, do another and hope nobody’s paying attention. People are looking for real leadership and change and someone who will do the right thing regardless of party.”