Greg Gianforte (R) coasts with double-digit lead in MT congressional race. Voters show favorable opinion of Donald Trump, strong support of Keystone XL pipeline

A new poll shows Republican Greg Gianforte ahead of Democrat Rob Quist in the race for Montana’s newly-vacant congressional seat. Gianforte yields 52% of the vote to Quist’s 37%. Libertarian Mark Wicks takes 5% of the vote, while 7% of Montana voters remain undecided. Since Montana has only one congressional district, this will be the first statewide election since President Trump took office.

This data collected April 20-21 has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

Gianforte had 90% of the Republican vote, and 38% of the Independent vote. Quist picks up 69% of the Democratic Party’s vote, with 26% of Democrats report planning to cross party lines and vote for Gianforte. Gianforte is getting 87% of Trump voters, while 88% of Clinton voters are likely to vote for Quist.

Rep. Ryan Zinke was tapped by the Trump Administration to fill the Secretary of the Interior position in February. He leaves office with a favorable rating of 60% and an unfavorable rating of 27%. Of the major candidates to replace him, Gianforte has the highest level of favorability, with 52% of voters indicating a favorable opinion. and 43% having an unfavorable opinion. A plurality of voters (48%) find Quist unfavorable, while 43% of voters find him favorable.

Bernie Sanders announced last week he would campaign on Quist’s behalf, though this data suggests a plurality of Montana voters view Sanders unfavorably: 48% of Montanans have an unfavorable opinion Sanders while 40% have a favorable opinion. This contrasts to 74% of Montana Democrats who view Sanders favorably. Only 35% of Independents share that view.

Regionally, Quist finds his greatest support in South Central/Yellowstone Montana, with 52% of the vote. Unfortunately for Quist, Gianforte is likely to win much of the rest of the state, including Northwest Montana (72% of the vote), Northeast Montana (48% of the vote), Southeast Montana (49% of the vote), and Missoula’s surrounding area (55% of the vote).

Montana voters are in favor of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will pass through the eastern part of the state. 63% of Montanans support the construction while 27% oppose it. Both Sen. Steve Daines (viewed as 55% favorable to 33% unfavorable) and Sen. Jon Tester (viewed as 51% favorable to 39% unfavorable) are in favor of the measure.

Montanans continue to feel positively about President Trump. As a whole, 55% of the state views the President favorably, while 41% of the state views him unfavorably. 91% of those who voted for Trump continue to support him. When the sample is broken down by age, the President’s strongest support comes from the 18-34 age range. A total of 59% of that group view him favorably, while 33% view him unfavorably.

The Montana congressional election poll was conducted April 20-21 by Peyton Lewis ’18, under the supervision of Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of voters, n=648, who indicated they were very likely to vote in the May 25th special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke. The margin of error (MOE) for this survey is +/- 3.8%, with a 95% confidence interval. The data was weighted by 2016 election results, age, education, gender, and region. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines.

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