State trust land revenue drops from last year

MT has poor Census response rate, jeopardizing 2nd seat on Congress

Montana's US Attorney Kurt Alme resigns

More than 100 contract medical workers come to MT to help fight virus

Medical marijuana providers hoping they won't be hurt by I-190 rules

MT ranch sales booming due to demand from COVID migrants

Governors left winging it on COVID due to Trump's lame-duck status

Tester says Democrats need to do better job talking to rural Americans

2 young children die in Kalispell house fire

Lawsuit filed by 5 MT firms says Bullock mask directive was political

New season of 'Yellowstone' going to look a lot like Missoula area

Dog lost in mountains near Red Lodge heads home to Minnesota

Murder charges filed against man accused of killing Crow woman

State OKs new rules that aim to prevent overcrowding on Madison River

Officers investigate suspected murder in Helena Valley

Lawmakers decide to drop revenue estimate they'll use to build budget

Concerns raised over handling of COVID issues at legislative session

MSU says its spring semester will look like fall

Supreme Court blocks permit for Libby-area mine

Nonprofits hope to get extra help with holiday needs

Lottery won't appeal judge's ruling on sports 

Legislators select their leaders for upcoming session

Daines calls vaccine safe after participating in COVID trial

Bozeman legislator draws flak for controversial social media posts

Dr. Fauci to lecture to UM audience via Zoom on Feb. 17

Bullock announces new statewide restrictions to limit COVID

State's rural health departments struggle to deal with pandemic

2 die, 1 injured in Kalispell trailer fire

State lawmakers debate how to proceed during pandemic

Flathead man who drove through grocery store charged with 2 felonies

'Dueling dinosaurs' fossils discovered in MT donated to NC museum

How do communities keep seniors safe from COVID, but not isolated?

State getting over $100M in settlement from tobacco companies

Bullock: No need to cut state services in next budget

Health officer encourages legislators to caucus remotely

Woman and her dog struck and killed by train near Chinook

2 Helena residents dead after their vehicle crashes into river



Judge recommends former mining official pay $20M in restitution

Bakken oil producers continue to struggle

Bullock administration wants Colstrip coal ash removed

Colstrip ash pond decision could be passed to Gianforte administration

Red Lodge brewery, Bozeman cidery exchange legal barbs

Pulse industry happy to see McDonald's develop McPlant burger

New Columbia Falls winery features Montana-grown grapes

Quinn's Hot Springs and Resort to reopen this winter after expansion



Big Sky hoopsters off to shaky start as virus derails games

Missoula Hellgate grad Tres Tinkle signs with LA Lakers

MSU's finalized schedule includes games with UNLV, Washington State

Pandemic creates great uncertainty for MSU basketball

Lady Cats also deal with new obstacles

Lady Griz Stiles ready to return to 'freshman-year self'

UM schedules 4 games against Pac-12, SEC schools

Bobcats get commitments from 4 players


Schwinden: 'In a government of the people, the people are always right'

Shopping locally now more important than ever

Republicans should follow Stapleton's example of accepting Biden win

Those who dismiss virus cannot continue to do so

Montana's election results reflect its urban-rural divide

The people have 'smoken'

After taking it on the chin, Montana Democrats must rebuild brand


Bigfork couple spend 3 decades building home from salvage materials

After more than 150 years, Civil War veterans being honored in MT

Northwest MT has had plenty of quakes, and there's potential for more

Trumpeter swan cygnets released in Yellowstone Park

That summer when Steven Spielberg came to Libby to make 'Always'

Helena brothel owner Big Dorothy battled the judicial system for years

Whitefish woman paddleboards like crazy in search of inner peace


Under the Big Sky Music Festival postponed until 2021​​

MSU's Kenny Chesney concert rescheduled for July of 2021

Send tips to sshirleymt@gmail.com


Mitchell and Alec Johnson pose at their business, Gallatin Gateway's Big Sky Buds, a medical marijuana delivery service. They are hoping to expand into the recreational marijuana market with the passage of I-190. (Bozeman Chronicle)


​​​​​BOTH political parties had their share of winners and losers this election, but there was one clear set of losers: the pollsters.

Pollsters greatly underestimated the level of support for President Trump in many states – something that also happened in 2016, but didn’t get fixed.

Polling on Senate races around the country was even more off base. In the Maine U.S. Senate race, for example, incumbent Sen. Susan Collins trailed Democratic challenger Sara Gideon in every major poll. One had her 12 points behind. But she ended up winning by a 9-point margin.

The same scenario played out in Montana.

The Mountain States Poll sponsored by MSU-Billings gave Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock a 48-47 point lead over Sen. Steve Daines. The GOP senator won by 10 points.

Same for the MSU-Bozeman poll, which gave Bullock a 2-point edge a couple weeks before the election. Likewise, that same poll gave GOP state Auditor Matt Rosendale a 48-46 percent edge over Democrat Kathleen Williams in their congressional contest, but Rosendale won by a 56-44 margin.

In the Mountain States Poll, Rosendale led Williams 47-46.

One of the few races that a Montana poll came close to getting right was the governor’s race. The MSU poll had GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte leading Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney leading 47 to 42. Gianforte actually won by more than 12 points, but that was still more than the poll's 3,9 percent margin of error.

The MSU-Billings poll had Gianforte and Cooney in a dead heat at 45 each.

From July 1 until Election Day, 17 polls took the pulse of Montana voters, and virtually all of them declared the Senate race a neck-and-neck affair. Some said Bullock was leading by as much as 4 points. Only one pollster, Emerson College, came close to getting a true measure of the sentiment of voters, having Daines up by 6 points in one and 9 by another.

In an interview aired Sunday with GOP and Democratic strategists Ashlee Strong and Eric Stern, MTN’s Jay Kohn asked about the polls. Both Strong and Stern said private polls done for the parties and candidates have been a lot more accurate than public polls, particularly those done by Montana's universities. What's the point, they agreed, in having taxpayers fund polls that have been so far off the mark in several election cycles?

Update: MTN's Mike Dennison has done a story in which he asks how the pollsters "missed the mark so badly." Possible factors, according to the analysts and pollsters he talked to: Many GOP voters are reluctant to talk to pollsters as they see them as part of the liberal media, or the polls used faulty methodologies that didn't adjust for the number of GOP voters there are in Montana. Another possibility: the unexpectedly large turnout worked to the advantage of the GOP -- and wasn't factored into poll possibilities. 

UM political scientist Rob Saldin noted that the internal polling done by campaigns was closer to the mark. Still, Saldin said, they were "every bit as surprised – not necessarily in terms of who won, but by the huge margins that we saw the Republican candidates win by.”  

BESIDES bombarding Montana readers with political news, five Montana daily newspapers have started to roll out endorsements of candidates for state office. As of Oct. 30, they'd done 32. The most notable thing about them? All but five -- or about 85 percent -- have gone to Democrats.

Conservatives will say they aren't surprised; it is just more evidence of media bias. Liberals -- and journalists -- will say Democrats just have superior candidates this cycle.

In an editorial endorsing five Democrats in down-ballot contests, the Bozeman Chronicle acknowledged that its decision will "bring into question our impartiality and ability to make nonpartisan calls." But it argued it wasn't swayed by political parties but by the need to endorse "the best candidate in each particular race,"​

​In that editorial, the paper endorsed Democrats Shane Morigeau for auditor, Melissa Romano for school superintendent, Raph Graybill for attorney general, Bryce Bennett for secretary of state, and Tom Woods for PSC. The paper also has endorsed Mike Cooney for governor, Kathleen Williams for Congress, and Steve Bullock for the Senate.

Here are the other four newspapers and their endorsements so far. We'll update the list as they continue to come in.

Billings Gazette: Greg Gianforte for governor, Troy Downing for auditor and Matt Rosendale for US House (three of only five Republicans to get an endorsement so far). Also, Democrats Bullock for governor, Romano for school superintendent, Bennett for secretary of state, Graybill for attorney general, and Valerie McMurtry for PSC.

Helena Independent Record: Cooney for governor. Also, Romano and Morigeau, as well as Republicans Austin Knudsen for attorney general and Chrisi Jacobsen for secretary of state, the only other GOP candidates beside Rosendale and Downing to win newspaper nods.

Missoulian: Bullock for US Senate, Williams for US House, Cooney for governor, Bennett for secretary of state, Graybill for attorney general, Romano for superintendent, Morigeau for auditor, and Monica Tranel for PSC.

Montana Standard: Bennett for secretary of state, Graybill for attorney general, Bullock for US Senate, and Cooney for governor.​


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

Nov. 24, 2020