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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.
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)
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)
A daily digest of Montana news
Nov. 19, 2018