Senate advances four bills that aim to restrict abortion access

Legislator takes another run at eliminating state's election 'cop'

Sex-abuse victim of former IHS doctor get settlement from feds

Judge dismisses transgender woman's suit against Miss USA pageant

House endorses bill that bans surgery for gender dysphoria in minors

Bill would make it harder for trans residents to change birth certificates

Daines, Tester split on Haaland nomination after Senate hearing

Legislature takes up recreational marijuana bills

Bill aims to hike penalty for illegal gating of public roads

Legislation would increase penalties for damage to energy facilities

Senate OKs plan to get more checks on assistance programs

House torpedoes proposal for partisan judicial elections

Daines, other GOP nominees grill Interior nominee Haaland

2 men wrongfully convicted in murder get $6M each in settlements

Lawmakers table bill that aimed to abolish state's death penalty

Upset by Bozeman's tight housing market, man begs to buy w/ signs

Senate OKs bill that would allow students to opt out of sex-ed classes

Bills aim to alleviate bottleneck of bison at Yellowstone's border

Senate rejects bill that would make PSC an appointed body

Gianforte uses his personal plane, not the state's aircraft

Names of 3 Billings teens killed in crash are released

2 MT snowmobilers rescued after 2 nights in Wyoming mountains

MT counties use different strategies to vaccinate residents

As legislative session nears its mid-point, bills pile up

GOP legislators go after ballot collection law struck down by judges

House panel endorses 16 bills in session that runs all day

Environmentalists pressure Daines to confirm Haaland

Butte house at center of fight over depth of preservation efforts

Bills that expand wolf-trapping rules on way to governor's desk

MT's top health-policy analyst recruited to help other states

MT & the Dakotas were COVID hot spots, then suddenly they weren't

Butte debates what to do with old buildings: Tear down or preserve

Interstate 90 near Big Timber blocked by crashed semis

3 Billings teens killed in rollover crash Friday

Panel moves to cut funding for Boulder facility for disabled

Hi-Line officials rip Biden's decision to shut Keystone pipeline

Committee rejects incumbent Fish & Wildlife commissioner McKean

Panel removes funding for 2 new district judges from budget

Hunters, landowners and wildlife managers team up to fight CWD

Laurel man convicted in stabbing death again sentenced to 80 years

2 men exonerated of 1994 murder get $12 million in settlements

Panel adds more money to state health department budget

Judge rules for Culbertson in access dispute against Knudsen family

Lawmaker wants to scrap some campaign contribution limits


BUSINESS / ECONOMY

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Bill would limit number of recreational marijuana dealers in MT

2 bills aim to change regulation of mobile home parks

Montana's venture capital investments boom in recent years

Bozeman legislator pushes for local sales tax

Lawmakers wade into fight over maintenance of Colstrip units

Colorado medical school proposes Billings campus

New York medical school eyes Great Falls site

MT firms, others get almost half a billion dollars in PPP loans

Commissioner reminds Montanans to think about flood insurance

Sponsor withdraws bill that would cut benefits of solar net metering


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 


Shorthanded Grizzlies hang on for win over Idaho State

Idaho State clobbers Lady Griz in 30-point win

Bills would allow MT college athletes to profit from their names

Lady Cats snare 88-80 win in OT from Idaho State

Lady Griz win 5th in a row, defeating Eastern Washington 65-62

Grizzlies lose again by score of 90-76 to Eastern Washington

Idaho State snaps Lady Cats eight-game win streak

Eastern Washington wallops Grizzlies, 90-76


OPINION 


Daines should give Haaland a fair hearing as Interior nominee

Keep the Judicial Nominating Commission in place

Biden's mask mandate for federal lands makes sense in many cases

Legislature must keep caucuses open to public and press

Biden should reconsider Keystone pipeline cancellation

2 Montana college professors call for Daines' resignation

Supreme Court pick for redistricting panel has partisan record

Daines, Rosendale complicit in violence at US Capitol


FEATURES


Mabel Lydston, the popular madam of Martin City

Vintage images of a Missoula photographer resurface

Blackfoot sculptor overcame disabilities to produce formidable art

MT actress Lily Gladstone to star in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Author looks at his grandmother's unsolved murder in Butte in 1940

Flathead furrier one of the last of a dying breed

Couple forced into long-distance relationship, tho they live miles apart

Whitefish man ready to take nation by storm -- in steinholding

Indie movie filmed in Flathead to be released Feb. 12


CALENDAR​​

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


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WEEKLIES
OTHER SOURCES

The Senate, shown here in a floor session earlier this year, on Tuesday endorsed legislation calling for more verification checks on state assistance programs. (Helena IR)

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


Feb. 27, 2021


​​​​​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 Collins 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.​