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MSU Billings continues 36-year tradition with Mountain States Poll

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Posted at 6:06 AM, Nov 03, 2023

Results from the 36th edition of the Mountain States Poll from Montana State University Billings came out on Thursday.

The late Dr. Craig Wilson started the poll in 1989.

Last month, students helped with 4,900 calls that brought in 657 valid responses.

Dr. Hope Dewell Gentry presented the results in her political science class on media, public opinion and polling.

Some of the questions are asked every year such as the approval rating of Congress.

This year 13% approve, but those numbers are between 32 and 40% for each of Montana's Senators and Representatives,

"You very often see that across all states across the nation, where people tend to feel more vested in their particular Congress person," said Dewell Gentry, an assistant professor in poliitcal science. "Or they might even be more willing to cut them some slack."

Other questions show 40 percent approval and 36 percent disapproval of U.S. military aid for Ukraine.

Sixty-one percent approve the bill banning medical gender affirming care for transgender minors.

And 45% approved the Governor Gianforte administration decision to ban TikTok in Montana.

"Younger generations were not as disapproving of the ban as we might have expected," Dewell Gentry said about the TikTok answers.

The poll claims a margin of error of about 3.82 percent.

Montana's 2022 U.S. House races were different than the poll results.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., won 56.5% of the vote, and the poll showed 35% support with 17% saying they did not know for whom they would vote.

The poll projected Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., to win the western district by nine points over Monica Tranel but in the end Zinke won by three after Tranel received much more support than what the poll said.

In 2020 , Democrat Steve Bullock was chosen to edge out Republican Steve Daines by one percentage point for the U.S. Senate.

That actual result was Daines won 55-45 percent.

Still, the students conducting the poll vouch for its credibility.

"It's probably pretty accurate just because we're not trying to get an angle," said Liam McColl, a political science student.

"One small thing was learning how to introduce yourself when doing the call and how that would affect people's receptiveness to answering questions in the first place," said Jeffery Flechsing, another political science student.

"We want to know what Montana says and so it's important that we get an opportunity to hear from Montana people," said T.J. Armstrong, another student in Gentry's class.

They also tout the fact that national websites "538" and "270 To Win" use the poll's data.

"Montana isn't always the most important news subject for a lot of places," said Dewell Gentry. "And so this way we can make sure that we are actually being heard as Montanans as well."