Big Sky Poll: Likely voters back Tester, Williams in Montana’s congressional races

Kathleen Williams is the Democratic candidate for Montana’s sole seat in the U.S. House. (Missoula Current)

In a survey of registered voters, Sen. Jon Tester earned the highest marks of excellence among Montana’s statewide elected officials, followed by Gov. Steve Bullock, according to the latest Big Sky Poll, released Monday by the University of Montana.

The poll also gave an election edge to Tester over Republican Matt Rosendale in the Senate race, and Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams over Republican incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte.

Conducted in August, the poll asked 618 registered voters how they would rate the job performance of President Donald Trump, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

  • 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.
  • Ten percent believe Daines is doing an excellent job, and 27 percent believe he is doing a poor job.
  • Eight percent of registered voters believe Gianforte is doing an excellent job, while 43 percent think he’s doing a poor job.
  • Fifteen percent of voters said Gov. Steve Bullock was doing an excellent job, and 17 percent rated his performance as poor.

The recent survey also asked likely voters who they would vote for if the mid-term election were held today. Fifty-six percent of likely voters said they’d vote for Tester while 32 percent would choose Republican challenger Matt Rosendale.

A recent Gravis poll gave Tester a 49-45 edge.

In the race for Montana’s only seat in the House, 52 percent of likely voters sided with Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams, while 38 percent would choose Gianforte.

A recent Gravis poll gave Gianforte a 51-42 edge.

“Some might consider these results outliers compared to private polling groups to date,” said UM Professor Sara Rinfret, co-director of the Big Sky Poll. “However, as we teach our students, we are capturing registered voters’ perceptions at a moment in time.”

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.

“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.”

The poll was commissioned by the University of Montana’s Social Science Research Laboratory and the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship. The margin of error is +/-4.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level with the same weighting.

Table 1: Elected Official’s Approval Ratings

  Tester Daines Gianforte Bullock Trump
Excellent Job 29% 10% 8% 15% 23%
Good Job 26% 27% 26% 42% 21%
Fair Job 18% 36% 23% 26% 13%
Poor Job 27% 27% 43% 17% 43%