MISSOULA – Montanans are divided over the job performance of statewide elected officials but generally disapprove of U.S. Department of Interior recommendations to reduce the size of national monuments, according to a new poll.

These assessments of public opinion are among the findings from the inaugural Big Sky Poll at the University of Montana. The Big Sky Poll collects and reports information about Montanans’ perceptions of local, state and federal issues.

In a series of questions, Montanans rated the job performance of their elected officials from excellent to poor, with the results in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Approval ratings

ExcellentGoodFairPoorDon’t Know/Refused
Gov. Steve Bullock13%32%32%17%7%
Mont. State Legislature1%18%45%21%14%
Rep. Greg Gianforte7%23%22%37%12%
Sen. Steve Daines8%26%29%26%10%
Sen. Jon Tester19%27%23%25%6%
Pres. Donald Trump20%23%12%41%3%


The poll also asked Montanans whether they approved or disapproved of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to decrease the size of national monuments. Of the respondents, 29 percent approved and 62 percent disapproved of Zinke’s recommendations, while 9 percent refused to answer or did not know an answer to the question.

The poll was conducted via telephone between Feb. 1 and Feb. 19 with 603 randomly selected Montana registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Use of poll findings require attribution to UM’s Big Sky Poll.

The Big Sky Poll is directed by UM Associate Professor Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master of Public Administration program, and UM marketing Associate Professor Justin Angle, in conjunction with seven graduate seminar students from UM’s MPA and Business Analytics programs. The survey was commissioned with support from UM’s Social Science Research Laboratory. The Big Sky Poll will be offered on an ongoing basis with its next iteration planned for fall 2018.

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