Republican Gianforte leads Democrat Quist: We polled on May 11-12 and May 18-19. We saw a consistent 13 pp lead for Gianforte over Quist. With Libertarian Wicks polling at 9 percent and Unsure voters at just 5 percent, the lead appears significant and stable heading into the last week of the campaign.
Gianforte was trading at $0.65/$1.00 at PredictIt as of May 19, but has risen up to $0.80 today, on the strength of him leading by 14 pp on a new Gravis poll. With both parties flooding the state with money, there is a lot of speculation that internal polls are showing a close race.
Cross-over voter between Trump and Bullock in 2016 gubernatorial/presidential election: Our latest poll had 23 percent of Trump voters crossing over to Bullock in last year’s gubernatorial, but just 9 percent of Trump voters indicated crossing over to Quist in the special election. While Clinton voters are holding steady for Quist, it is validating to our topline result that Republicans/Trump voters admit to crossing over for Bullock at about the correct rate in the 2016 gubernatorial election, but do not anticipate crossing over for Quist at the same rate now. Further, Independents were about 15 pp higher for Bullock than Gianforte in 2016, but are about evenly divided in the Congressional election. Bullock won by 4 pp and Trump by 22 pp, we are basically anticipating that Quist splits the difference and loses by about 11-12 pp. All our analyses indicate that the race is a long shot for Democrats, as of 05/19.
Uncertainty in horse race polling: The biggest issue for a special election is the likely voter space. We are building the distribution of voters off of the 2016 voting (from voter file data), Census data, and, of course, responses to these polls. But, special elections are notoriously variable. Our take is that the distribution of voters will not be too much different from 2016, which is a big victory for Democratic turnout, as mid-terms and special elections should swing towards Republican electorates.
Trump doing OK: Trump won Montana by 22 pp, but now has a positive approval of 51 percent to 41 percent. 10 percent of Trump voters disapprove of him and 8 percent neither approve nor disapprove. Only 2 percent of Clinton voters approve of him at all and 91 percent “Disapprove Strongly”. Most interesting is that Trump’s strong approval and disapproval is the same, as many Trump supporters “Approve Weakly”. Trump has lost support in Montana, but is still above water.
Populism Strong: There is very strong support for raising taxes on rich and providing the public health-care option in Montana. Actually, a majority of Trump voters support a public option and raising taxes on household income over $250,000. This result is extremely strong and robust.
Knowledge Gap is Wide: It is very encouraging that 45 percent of Montana voters think/know that GOP/Trumpcare will raise rate of uninsured, but only 15 percent think that at least half the Trump tax cuts will go to households that make $250,000 or more. Estimates of earlier plans had about half going to households making $700,000 or more. While this gap is a suitable target for massaging campaigns, the source of this divergence can be either lack of information or partisan motivated reasoning. Of course, only the former can lead to positive net change.