UM poll rates job performance of state’s elected officials

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MISSOULA — The University of Montana’s recent Big Sky Poll of 618 registered voters reports Montanans have mixed views of the job performances of their elected officials. The poll was conducted in August.

Montanans were asked how they would rate the job performances of President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Participants were asked to rank them as excellent, good, fair or poor.

Twenty-nine percent of registered voters think Tester is doing an excellent job in office, while 27 percent think he is doing a poor job in office. This is in comparison to 20 percent responding excellent and 41 percent responding poor during the Spring 2018 Poll.

Ten percent believe Daines is doing an excellent job, and 27 percent believe he is doing a poor job. This is in comparison to 8 percent who said he was doing an excellent job and 26 percent who said he was doing a poor job during the Spring 2018 Poll.

Forty-three percent of respondents believe Gianforte is doing a poor job in office. This is in an increase from the 36.8 percent stating he was doing a poor job during the Spring 2018 Poll.

Forty-two percent of voters rated Gov. Steve Bullock as doing good job in office. This is up from the from the Spring 2018 Poll, where 32 percent said they believe he was doing a good job.

When asked to rate Trump’s job performance, 41 percent of respondents said they believed he is doing a poor job and 20 percent said he is doing an excellent job. Forty-seven percent of registered voters in Montana’s top-five populated cities rated Trump’s job performance as poor, compared to 38 percent of rural voters.

Forty-eight percent of self-identified Republicans found President Trump to be excellent at his job, and 89 percent of self-identified Democrats rated his job performance as poor. Montanans’ job performance ratings of Trump have changed little since the Spring 2018 poll.

The August survey also asked likely voters who they would vote for if the midterm election were held today.

Fifty-six percent of likely voters indicated they would vote for incumbent Democratic candidate Jon Tester for U.S. Senate, 32 percent would choose Republican candidate Matt Rosendale and 9 percent remain undecided.

In the race for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, 52 percent of likely voters sided with Democratic candidate Kathleen Williams, while 38 percent would choose incumbent Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, and 8 percent remain undecided.

“Some might consider these results outliers compared to private polling groups to date, however, as we teach our students, we are capturing registered voters’ perceptions at a moment in time,” said UM Professor Sara Rinfret, co-director of the Big Sky Poll. “Our survey is also the first in this election cycle to be conducted via phone calls versus online panels. It’s interesting to see how different polling methodologies are coming up with different results.”

She said the UM Big Sky Poll will poll the two statewide congressional races again in mid-October and release results before the Nov. 6 election.

The UM Big Sky Poll telephone survey was conducted Aug.13-31 with 618 registered Montana voters. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. Survey results were weighted by geography and gender to more accurately reflect demographics of the registered voter population in Montana. U.S. Congressional races reflect the responses of just Montana voters. The margin of error is +/-4.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level with the same weighting.

The survey was commissioned with support from UM’s Social Science Research Laboratory and the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship. The UM Big Sky Poll will be conducted on an ongoing basis, with more results to be released before the November 2018 election and its next full iteration in spring 2019.

Full results at http://umt.edu/bigskypoll

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