BILLINGS - Republicans have the lead in both of Montana's congressional races with just under two weeks until Election Day, according to a new poll released by MSU Billings on Wednesday.
In the Eastern Montana district, Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale was the top choice with 35%. Independent Gary Buchanan, a Billings businessman, took second with 21.48%, while Democrat Penny Ronning, a former Billings City Council member, was third with 17.12%. Libertarian Sam Rankin rounded out the field with 4.68%.
A significant group — 17.32% — said they didn't know whom they would support.
In the western district, Republican Ryan Zinke, a former congressman and Interior Department secretary, was the choice of 33.85% of respondents. Democrat Monica Tranel, a Missoula attorney, was second with 24.63% and Libertarian John Lamb was third with 17.03%. The remaining respondents, 19.71%, said they didn't know.
The 35th Mountain States Poll was conducted from Oct. 3 to Oct. 14 by students in the MSU Billings political science polling class. The margin of error is 5.29%. More than 9,000 numbers were called, and students collected 343 valid responses.
While Rosendale was the top choice for eastern Montana voters, he was also the only statewide elected official whose disapproval rating was higher than his approval. (Rosendale currently represents the entire state in Congress. Montana was granted a second member who takes office in January.)
About 35% of respondents disapproved of Rosendale, and about 29% approved of his job.
Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican who's not on the ballot this year, had the top approval rating among statewide elected officials with 47%, compared to 25% disapproval. Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, who's not up for re-election for another four years, had a 39.5% approval rating and 31% disapproval. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Montana's lone statewide elected Democrat, had a 41% approval and 39% disapproval rate
President Joe Biden, a Democrat didn't fare well in the poll. Almost 22% of respondents approved his job, while about 58% disapproved.
Respondents were also asked questions about various issues facing the state, including access to mental health, transgender rights, Native American education, agriculture, worker shortages, public lands and other topics.
Absentee ballots have already been mailed. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Read the full poll below: