State gives vaccine priority to those over 70, having medical issues

State reports 555 new COVID cases, 5 deaths

Lawmakers to debate changes to Habitat Montana easement program

Missoula hillside peace sign temporarily defaced with swastika

2 women investigated after girl disappears on Crow Reservation

MT delegation sees no point in pushing for Trump impeachment

Legislative leaders highly recommend masks, but won't require them

Panel drops starting point for health agency budget by $1 billion

Montanans' need for food assistance rose sharply in 2020

Number of homeschooled students rose 70% in MT last year

Lawsuit alleges that Butte 5th-grade teacher sexually assaulted pupil

Gianforte releases budget that calls for cuts in taxes and spending

New governor showing support for pay raise for state workers

Hamilton legislator tests positive for COVID, says he's asymptomatic

Supreme Court dismisses former UM coach's claim against school

Missoula man charged with shooting his father 19 times, killing him

Indian Health doctor sentenced for getting kickbacks on prescriptions

Gianforte picks Kuhl to lead his Department of Indian Affairs

Daines says his rhetoric didn't contribute to insurrection

Top Montana political officials denounce violence at US Capitol

Trump supporters gather at Montana Capitol to back president

Daines' drops bid to oppose states' election results

Rosendale says he still opposes certifying Biden victory

GOP governor, lawmakers lay out legislative priorities

Billings restaurant being featured on Food Network show Thursday

Gun bill would allow concealed carry at Montana universities

Former Frenchtown student sues alleging teacher misconduct

Pandemic crimes? Billings murders, violent crimes jump 50% in 2020

Utah man admits digging in Yellowstone Park cemetery for treasure

COVID precautions at the Capitol depend on the room

Gianforte sets guidelines for lifting mask mandate eventually

Senate committees will let public testify via Zoom

Man suspected in Whitefish killed extradited from Texas

Daines, Rosedale decline to provide support for claim of election fraud


BUSINESS / ECONOMY

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Butte sound system business hopes to soon get back on feet

Ravalli County dairy farm closes after 120 years of operation

Analysis: Richest Montanans reaped $719M from GOP tax cut

Legislator seeks COVID liability protections for businesses

Whitefish Mountain Resort sees record numbers over holidays

Livingston software, marketing firm plans to hire 50 employees

State grants Keystone pipeline OK to cross water with conditions

Flathead man makes waves building custom snowboards, wakeboards


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

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Bobcats eke out overtime win over Northern Colorado

Lady Cats lose to Northern Colorado, 57-49

Grizzlies overcome slopping first half to beat Whitworth 81-67

Choate to stay at MSU as Boise State turns elsewhere for coach

Bobcats beat Northern Colorado on the road, 79-67

MSU's Choate now reportedly Boise State's 'top target' for coach

7-3 Oregon teen commits to play for Bobcats

Grizzlies beat Northern Colorado in closing seconds, 56-54


OPINION 


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

Daines and Rosendale should apologize

Bullock: Serving as MT's governor was a humbling privilege

Daines' electoral move is extreme and dangerous

Daines deserves much of the credit for speedy delivery of vaccines

Owners of Colstrip facility should clean up ash ponds correctly


FEATURES


How Loren Acton got from a Lewistown ranch to outer space

Wilderness packer turns horseshoes into pieces of art

Butte men restore Columbia Gardens coaster car to former glory

Missoula author writes of 'The Most Sneakin'est Man that Ever Was'

A Montana child's Christmas letter from 1864 has parallels to 2020

New book celebrates art, lives of Missoula Eddie's Club portraits

Restoration of historic St. Ignatius Mission Church almost done


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


Gov. Greg Gianforte talks about his budget proposals at a press conference at the Capitol Thursday. (Helena IR)

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


Jan. 16, 2021

WEEKLIES


​​​​​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.​