HELENA – President Donald Trump has an approval rating of 54.5% in Montana – more than any top politician in the state, according to a Montana Television Network-Montana State University poll.
Trump barely edged out Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who scored a 54.2% approval rating in the poll.
The two members of Congress up for re-election – Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte – had the lowest approval ratings, slightly below 50%.
However, the poll also showed that Independents, a sizable voting bloc in Montana, approve of the job that Tester and Bullock are doing by strong margins – but are more disapproving of both Trump and Gianforte.
The mail-ballot poll of more than 2,000 registered voters, conducted during a three-week period in late September and early October, also asked Montanans’ opinions on a variety of issues.
Among other things, more Montanans than not supported the 2017 GOP federal tax cuts, opposed “Obamacare,” and think the country is heading in the right direction.
The poll has an error margin of plus-or-minus 2%.
The poll asked respondents whether they strongly approved, approved, disapproved or strongly disapproved of the president, Bullock, Tester, Gianforte and Montana’s Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines.
The percentages of people who approved or strongly approved are added together to come up with an approval rating.
Here’s a look at the ratings for each man:
President Trump: Nearly 32% of Montanans strongly approve of the job he’s doing and another 22.6% approve, giving him his 54.5% approval rating. He also had a disapproval rating of nearly 44%, with few people undecided.
His ratings had a clear partisan divide: 94% of Republicans like the job he’s doing, while 96% of Democrats don’t, including 87% who “strongly disapprove.”
But when it comes to Independents, 54.5% disapproved and 43% approved.
Gov. Bullock: About 39% said they approve and 15.4% “strongly approve” of the governor’s performance, giving him his 54.2% approval. Only 35% disapprove of his performance.
Almost 30% of Republicans like the job that Bullock is doing, and Independents give him a 62-26 edge on approval vs. disapproval.
Sen. Tester: Tester had a 48.9% approval rating, while 45.3% disapproved of the job he’s doing as senator. Almost all Democrats polled said he’s doing a good job, and 13.6% of Republicans said the same. Among Independents, he had a 60-33 margin on approval-disapproval.
Rep. Gianforte: Gianforte had a 48.1% approval rating, the lowest of any officeholder asked about in the poll, and only 17.3% of those said they “strongly approve.” His disapproval rating is 41.5%.
The partisan divide here also was strong: 89% of Democrats polled disapprove of Gianforte’s performance and 87% of Republicans liked the job he’s doing. Among Independents, however, just 35% approved and 53% disapproved.
Sen. Daines: Montana’s junior senator, who’s up for re-election in 2020, had an approval rating of 53.2%, with 17.9% strongly approving. Independents also gave Daines a positive nod, with 49% approving of his performance and 34% disapproving.
On issues, Montanans came out strongly on illegal immigration and public/federal lands, but were less united on taxes, health care and the direction of the country. Here are the details:
Direction of the country/state: Nearly 50% of Montanans said the country is going in the right direction, while 42% said it is not. Democrats are much more likely to say things are going askew, while Republicans overwhelmingly like where things are headed. Independents skew on the negative side, with nearly 48% saying the country is going in the wrong direction and 41% saying it’s OK.
About 51% of Montanans think the state is going in the right direction, but only 31% said it’s not – and almost 18% said they’re not sure. Oddly enough, the partisan divide on this question barely exists. Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all right around the 50% mark in saying the state is doing well.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”): The poll said 48.5% of Montanans still oppose it, while 31% favor it and 17% are in the middle, neither favoring nor opposing.
Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to favor the law, with 71% in favor, while 78% of GOP respondents oppose it. Independents are slightly more likely to oppose it.
The 2017 Republican federal tax-cut law: Nearly 46% of Montanans said they favor it, while 35% are opposed. About 19% are undecided.
Republicans and Democrats are evenly split, with about 80% supporting and opposing, respectively. Independents, however, lean more toward disliking the law or being undecided. Only 34.6% of them favor it, while 41% oppose it and 25% don’t know.
Illegal immigration: 68% of Montanans agree that illegal immigration is a “serious problem,” according to the poll and only 16.4% disagree. The issue also cuts across partisan lines, somewhat, although it’s clearly much more of an issue for Republicans.
Almost 95% of Republicans polled said it’s a serious problem and 62% of Independents agreed. So did 30% of Democrats.
Protecting federal lands in Montana: Not much disagreement on this issue among Montanans. A full 89% said they agree or strongly agree that this protection is important. Democrats are fully on board, with 99% agreement, but Independents and Republicans aren’t far behind, at 95% and 82.5%, respectively.
– Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News