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Workers from the Park County Health Department conduct a community survey related to COVID-19 in a Livingston neighborhood on Tuesday. (Billings Gazette)

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


Nov. 24, 2020

BLOGS
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 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.​



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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

Highway Patrol trooper shoots and kills man near Columbus

Flathead Co has lots of roads crossing state lands without easements

Montana joins other states in legalizing marijuana

Surviving a month lost in wilds, a horse named Sweets comes home

Montana has gotten record-breaking snow this fall due to La Nina

Flathead officials struggle to deal with issue of COVID restrictions

Man faces charges after driving car into Columbia Falls grocery store

Great Falls teen charged with negligent homicide in fatal shooting

Helena man charged with assault after mask-wearing confrontation

State asks hundreds of workers to return pandemic payments

Mother, son arrested in Bozeman on drug and rape charges

UM crews try to capture, relocate bears wandering near campus

Daines and other GOP senators argue election still not settled

Judge rejects state's effort to force firms to comply with mask directive

Bullock says COVID inaction is due to lack of federal funds

COVID spike straining state's health systems

Chouteau Co officials complain residents won't quarantine, wear masks

Bullock hasn't talked to Biden or his transition team, his office says

Those who served honored at Veterans Day ceremonies

WaPo claims case against Zinke delayed

Republicans celebrate red sweep, but what does it mean?

Political observers surmise why GOP had such success

GTF woman loses animal-abuse case before Supreme Court

Governor-elect Gianforte names task force to help with COVID plan

Helena man accused of flashing gun after refusing to wear mask in cafe

Ravalli Co docs on COVID impacts: 'We are on the brink of disaster'

Feds send health-care workers to Billings hospitals to help out

Missoula state senator cites COVID in decision to step down

Protesters object after Missoula police shoot knife-wielding man

Gallatin County offices close after exposure to COVID

Yellowstone Co may implement new restrictions as COVID cases rise

40 residents at Kalispell assisted living facility test positive

Great Falls breaks more records with weekend snowfalls

Deadline for LWCF project list missed; could be released Tuesday


BUSINESS / ECONOMY

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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

Wheat prices rise sharply for Montana producers

Counties see tax revenue drop as coal industry falls on hard times


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

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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

Forsyth's 6-6 Hein to play for MSU

UM's Steadman, MSU's Belo picked for Big Sky's preseason team

Griz post player Michael Steadman ready to get back on the floor


OPINION 


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

We can't let the volatility of this election cycle be the new normal

Promoters of legalized pot in MT spend tons of out-of-state dark money


FEATURES


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

Deer Lodge native writes mystery novel set in Butte

After 5 months, Kalispell woman finishes Continental Divide Trail


CALENDAR​​

Under the Big Sky Music Festival postponed until 2021​​

MSU's Kenny Chesney concert rescheduled for July of 2021

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com


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