Bullock, Tester, Gianforte and Daines

HELENA — Two of Montana’s three federal representatives and Gov. Steve Bullock have a higher job approval rating among Montana voters than does President Donald Trump, according to new polling data from the University of Montana.

According to the UM Big Sky Poll, 47 percent of Montanans rate the president’s job performance “poor,” versus 45 percent who consider it “excellent” or “good.”

More voters give “good” or “excellent” marks to Bullock (53 percent), Sen. Jon Tester (51 percent), and Sen. Steve Daines (47 percent), though the numbers for Tester and Daines are within the poll’s margin of error relative to the president’s approval rating. Fewer (38 percent) approve of U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s job performance.

Montana voters are significantly less negative about all four of Montana’s first-tier elected officials than they are about the president, with 21 percent giving “poor” marks to Bullock, 33 percent to Tester, 23 percent to Daines, and 38 percent to Gianforte.

UM Big Sky Poll results. Eric Dietrich / MTFP

The poll also assessed what Montana voters think of U.S. Congress and the Montana Legislature, indicating that the latter has better approval.

Only 12 percent of voters rate the job performance of the state Legislature, currently in its 2019 session, as “poor,” compared to 46 percent who say the same thing about the U.S. Congress. Only 4 percent of voters give the state Legislature full-fledge “excellent” marks.

The poll, conducted by UM professors Sara Rinfret and Justin Angle, reached 293 registered Montana voters between Feb. 21 and March 1 using an online survey. The researchers say the results have a margin of error of 5.7 percentage points.

That margin means the reported figures are considered likely accurate within a roughly 12 point range. Trump’s 47 percent “good” or “excellent” rating, for example, means his actual approval rating in Montana is probably between 41 and 53 percent — provided, that is, the poll successfully surveyed a representative sample of the state’s voters.

The full results, and more information about methodology, is available on the UM website.

Eric came to journalism in a roundabout way after studying engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman (credit, or blame, for his career direction rests with the campus's student newspaper, the Exponent). He has worked as a professional journalist in Montana since 2013, with stints at the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network before joining the Montana Free Press newsroom in Helena full time in 2019.