This model, which recreates the position two "dueling dinosaurs" were found in after their fossilized skeletons were found on a Montana ranch in 2006, is now on display in a New York museum. (AP)


WELL, now that Montana's election results are in, we know how everyone fared, including the pollsters. 

And the interesting thing is, out-of-state pollsters came a lot closer to getting it right than their Montana counterparts. In fact, polls done by the University of Montana and MSU-Billings deserve failing grades for how much they missed the mark in some contests.

For example, a UM Big Sky poll released in early October (and conducted in August) showed Sen. Jon Tester with a 24-point lead over GOP challenger Matt Rosendale. Tester ended up defeating Rosendale 50-47. Libertarian Rick Breckenridge got 3 percent.

A Big Sky poll that came out closer to the election did show the race tightening, with Tester leading by 10 points.

An MSU-Billings poll, also from October, had Tester with a 47 to 38 lead.

By contrast, a polling firm new to Montana politics, Gravis Marketing, consistently showed a close race between Tester and Rosendale. Their September poll had Tester with a 49-45 lead; October's poll put Tester at 48, Rosendale at 45. Gold star to Gravis.

CBS News issued a September poll that had similar results: Tester 47, Rosendale 45. Also of note: A MTN/MSU poll of voters in late September and early October that head Tester leading 46-43. (Kudos to these pollsters as well, who had a good record this election cycle.)

Montanans who follow politics also were surprised by the first UM Big Sky poll that showed Democrat Kathleen Williams with a 52-38 lead over incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte. UM's later poll essentially showed them in a dead heat. So did the last Gravis poll.

Gianforte won 51-46. 

In this race, the MSU-Billings poll did much better, showing Gianforte with a 44-41 lead. A MTN/MSU poll gave Gianforte the edge, 48-40 after surveying voters in late September and early October.

Some of the biggest discrepancies between poll results and election results appeared in the initiative contests. 

The MSU-Billings poll had Montana voters approving Initiative 185 (Medicaid expansion) by a 52-39 margin (8 percent undecided). The ballot measure was defeated 53-47.

The same poll showed Montanans overwhelmingly behind Initiative 186, which would have added restrictions on mining. (44 for, 30 against, 26 undecided). The actual vote: 56-44 against.

An MTN/MSU poll on Initiative 185 was somewhat closer to the mark, showing a virtual dead heat.

The verdict from all this: The UM and MSU-Billings polls seem to be over-sampling Democrats.

SOME OF the most interesting -- and hilarious -- news you'll find in Montana's newspapers is featured in the police blotters. Consider this gem in the Nov. 7 edition of Kalispell's Daily Inter Lake:

"A noise complaint was validated when an officer arrived to check it out. The participants said they were wrapping up a game of strip poker and then quiet would resume."

HISTORICALLY, Montana's daily newspapers have given the majority of their endorsements to Democrats for the state's major offices. This year is different. So far all the endorsements have gone to Democrats.

For those on the right, in these polarized times, this is just confirmation of the media's liberal bias.

For those on the left, it underscores the media's reasoned resistance to the excesses of conservatives in general and President Trump in particular.

So far this fall, endorsements of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester have come from the Billings Gazette, Missoulian, Bozeman Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, and Montana Standard

The Chronicle, Missoulian, and Gazette also have endorsed Kathleen Williams, the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte.

MONTANA is the 8th most politically engaged state. So says WalletHub, a personal finance website that analyzes how the states stack up in a number of social measures.

​In this case, Montana ranked 8th in terms of voter registration for the 2016 election. Other factors that figured into its overall ranking of 8th: 12th in the country for percentage of electorate that voted in the 2014 midterm elections, and third for political contributions among adults.

The District of Columbia is the most politically engaged "state," while New Mexico ranked as the least.​ (Hat tip to the Great Falls Tribune)

LOOKING for some of the country's best burgers? You don't have to leave Montana, according to TripAdvisor, because Billings' Burger Dive serves them.

The travel website recently released a list of the ten best burger joints in the country, and the Burger Dive came in No. 10.

Owner Brad Halsten says he was really surprised by the ranking, even though he's won other awards, including top burger at the World Burger Championship two years ago. All the success is pretty amazing considering that the restaurant is Halsten's first and he's only been in business seven years.



Court: Mineral rights include Montana's 'dueling dinosaur' fossils

State, county officials disagree over needs of voting systems

Bozeman firm wins $324 millon contract to build portion of border wall

Montana Resources turns to high-tech to haze birds away from pit

Grizzly cub dies after being hit by train near Columbia Falls

Bullock picks Colorado man as new director of Environmental Quality

Governor proposes $10.3 billion budget for upcoming biennium

New speaker of the MT House talks of priorities for upcoming session

Regents defend pay raises for top managers

At least 86 geese shot, left for dead in Augusta area

Winter weather returns, travelers face slippery roads 

3 arrested in Idaho after shots fired at Jefferson Co deputy's vehicle

Libby man survives stabbing; suspect charged with attempted murder

Whitefish ponders ways to reduce threat from wildfire

State has 1 confirmed case of paralyzing illness, another one possible

Secretary of State: Giving contract to friend worked out well for voters

Helena woman charged with raping minor

State lawmakers pick new leaders for upcoming session

Bullock: Invasive weeds one of biggest threats to western economies

Billings man accidentally shot, killed while hunting near Virginia City

Jury acquits man accused of running over girlfriend's leg with truck

Judge lets case against Neo-Nazi website publisher to proceed

Yellowstone County pays $37K to settle lawsuit by ex-inmate

Presenters withdraw from UM conference where Bannon is to speak

Montana grizzlies roam far from Big Sky country

Flathead man recovering after bear attack near Columbia Falls

State Corrections Department slicing 22 positions due to budget shortfall

MT voters show deep purple streak as they re-elect Tester, Gianforte

Bullock among many Democrats looking at presidential run in 2020

Regents look at raises, including ones for top managers

Havre High School classes due to threat left in bathroom

Legislators meet in Helena Wednesday to pick leaders for session

73 Montana firefighters headed to California to battle blazes

Zinke says he's '100 percent confident' he'll be cleared of charges

Retired MT priest charged in child pornography case

Butte sonogram operator sentenced for sexual assault

2 men suspected of stealing $13K from Billings coin shop

Montana universities may tighten rules over in-state tuition

Trucking firm owner gets year in prison for role in oil plant explosion


Rosebud Mine, sole supplier of Colstrip coal, to sell at 2019 auction

Montana farmers showing more interest in pulse crops

For Sun River craftsman, making caskets is a labor of love

Missoula man sues Atlantic Richfield over health problems

State will allow coal mine to expand, despite threat of bankruptcy filing

Jury awards Columbia Falls man $2.1M in wrongful termination suit

Proposed copper mine needs storage pond, delays analysis

Whitefish Mountain Resort proposes new lifts and runs


Brawl of the Wild: Keys to victory for Cats and Griz

Bull riding champ Jess Lockwood apologizes for 'insensitive' tweet, fined

Grizzlies open Bahamas tourney with blowout over Incarnate Word

Lady Bobcats beat Delaware, 69-60

Grizzlies sign 3 hoops players from California

Lady Griz sign Helena's Pickens, Missoula's Schweyen

Griz QB named to National Performer of the Year watch list

Where are Cats and Griz from? Find out with these player maps

MSU men lose road game to Colorado State, 81-77



Stapleton's dumb decisions on legal help, printing

Montanans decide to re-elect a bipartisan delegation

A black woman finds hope when an olive branch is extended in MT

After defeat of I-186, mining industry has a 'trust gap' to fill

Secretary of State: Gazette editorial made 'vicious,' error-ridden attack

On the Graham Ranch, a new roof for the barn, and fixes to the corral


A teacher juggles many roles at Hutterite school in central Montana

Richard Ford's Montana-based 'Wildlife' finally makes it to the screen

Townsend chapel now offers $100 walk-in weddings on weekends

Letterpress makes a comeback in Missoula

Missoula's historic Raymond House was a mail order home

Civil War vet gets tombstone at Kalispell cemetery after a century


Bob Seger reschedules Billings concert for January

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news

Nov. 17, 2018