Debunking the Big Lie Under the Big Sky

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  • May 11, 2020
  • 4 min read

While Gov. Bullock will campaign as a moderate Democrat who will take Western values to Washington, his actions are sure to be different from his words.

THE EDITORS’ TAKE

A recent poll of the Montana Senate campaign projecting Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock leading first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines is making the media rounds, and its flaws must be exposed because the results are misleading.

The Montana race is one of the national firewall campaigns, along with Iowa and Maine, at least two of which the GOP must win to guarantee that their tenuous majority will be protected irrespective of what happens at the presidential level.

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) begged and pleaded with Mr. Bullock to enter the Senate race both before and after the Montana governor’s ill-fated presidential effort began and ended. Sen. Schumer knows that Gov. Bullock is the only Democrat who can give Sen. Daines a race. For Democrats to have a chance at winning the Senate majority, they must expand the political playing field, hence the need to recruit Bullock.

You may remember that Gov. Bullock qualified for one Democratic presidential debate stage, and it proved to be the highlight of his short-lived national campaign. He was one of the last candidates to enter the presidential contest, and among the first to exit, disbanding his campaign nine weeks before the Iowa Caucus even began the presidential nomination process.

Throughout April, researchers from the political science department at Montana State University Bozeman conducted and released an online survey that spotted Gov. Bullock to a 46-39% lead over Sen. Daines. This poll is a serious departure from the methodology the same personnel used when conducting their surveys in 2018. Then, the MSU statisticians used a 15% GOP party advantage when they accurately predicted Sen. Jon Tester’s victory and margin. This time, however, we find them using a much different model.

The new segmentation, for example, features an 18-29 age segment of 29% even though the Census Bureau estimates that the Montana population projects to less than 10% falling within this demographic category. Conversely, the statisticians selected only 4% from the most elderly segment when the Census finds that almost 19% of the state population is over 65 years of age.

The aforementioned mis-characteristics are common problems with self-respondent online surveys. This particular MSU online poll has resulted in a dramatic overweighting of the youth vote and an underweighting of seniors. Such a calculation greatly improves the outlook for Gov. Bullock but skews against Sen. Daines.

On the political front, the pollsters yield the GOP only a paltry three-point advantage over the Democrats, which doesn’t properly align with recent Montana voting history. For example, President Trump carried the state by 20 points 2016, and four years earlier Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won with a 14 percentage point margin.

In fact, MSU methodology is so tainted that a professional polling firm specializing in conducting political surveys, and particularly within the Rocky Mountain region, wrote a rebuttal report in order to set the record straight. The Moore Information Group released an analysis of this survey, detailing two major areas where the methodology fails to give a true reading of the Montana electorate. A third area, the fact that the poll took 18 days to complete when three days is generally the standard sampling period, is also a critical fact.

The Montana Senate race is far more important than what a flawed May poll may or may not promote. In fact, it is a national benchmark campaign. There is a very good chance that the winning party in Montana will also claim the Senate majority.

While Gov. Bullock will undoubtedly campaign as a moderate Democrat saying he will take Western values to Washington, it will be difficult to reconcile what will be his 2020 Senate campaign message with his 2020 Presidential campaign theme. In his failed national campaign, for example, Bullock called for enhancing gun control measures, while relentlessly opposing President Trump.

Since Montana has a history of ticket splitting, successful Democratic candidates go to great lengths to disassociate themselves from the national party platform and leaders. Sen. Tester’s first campaign ad in 2018, for example, featured all the bills he passed in working with the President. Gov. Bullock will try to backtrack from his presidential race, and though he is likely to receive media cover, Sen. Daines’ campaign is sure to remind voters of Bullock’s political duplicity.

By voting for New York’s Sen. Schumer for Majority Leader – and Bullock will if elected – he will endorse all that the national Democrats want and are committed to achieving: economic stagnation from over-regulation of the private sector; eventual firearm confiscation; and finding every possible way to transfer even more money from the private sector to the government.

Continuing to move through the election cycle, we will again see questionable research among the plethora of polling that will be released around the country.Always remember that all polls are not equivalent, and even the best ones merely capture a moment in time that can change very quickly.

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