Mason Dixon conducted a poll in Montana October 10-12 for Lee Newspapers, and the results are now being published in the state newspapers, a different race each day. Based on what has been published in the Billings Gazette, here are the three top races:
Clinton-Trump-Johnson 36-46-11 President
Juneau-Zinke-Breckenridge 40-53-1 Congress
Bullock-Gianforte-Dunlap 47-45-2 Governor
And based on what Cowgirl Blog has heard or seen, here are the three lower races:
Laslovich-Rosendale (Rosendale leads by 10)
Romano-Arntzen (Arntzen leads by 4)
Sanderfeur-Juras (Juras leads by 1)
A few things. First, Mason Dixon is historically has about a 3 point conservative bias. Recall that in 2012 they predicted a Rick Hill victory by a nice margin as well as one for Dennis Rehberg, when in fact Hill and Rehberg both lost. Mason Dixon also favored McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 nationally.
Cowgirl Polling Average
If you are interested in where the races truly stand, especially the governor’s race, then you’ve come to the right place. There has been a ton of polling by the various groups, parties and campaigns in all of these races and much of it comes to the attention of the Cowgirl Blog. Dozens of polls since the spring tell the following story: Bullock had a solid lead throughout the spring and summer, as much as 8 points on average. It then narrowed when Gianforte began spending big on TV, with a single poll even showing Gianforte up a point but the mean average of polls still showing Bullock up about 3 or 4. Then in the last week the spread widened considerably, with Bullock now averaging about 6 point lead. Factoring a roughly three point bias, the Mason Dixon poll is what you would expect it to be. But again, it is a Republican leaning poll, and always has been.
The Juneau Zinke spread in the Mason Dixon poll is greater than the average of surveys have shown. At least one poll released by Paul Harstad, the prominent pollster from Colorado, has the Juneau race at four points, and generally from the many polls I’ve seen, that race average out to about a 9 point Zinke lead, with a fair number of undecideds still remaining and thus the race still in play. As for the Laslovich number, the only other polling data Cowgirl blog has obtained is from a Republican candidate in another race, and it shows only a four point lead for Rosendale. That’s not entirely surprising given the amount of money that Rosendale spend on TV ads in his run for US Senate.
And a word of caution: the down-ballot races have so many undecided voters that the polling numbers mean very little at this point, its almost not worth even mentioning them. That’s because its harder to get the word out about these races: Supreme Court, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, Chief State School Superintendent, Clerk of the Supreme Court, PSC. Voters are less familiar with the offices. Candidates have to compete for coverage and funds with the more well-known races. And thus voters take longer to decide. This is the case every election cycle.
One thing is certain, however, which is that if you average many polls, you will get an accurate sense of a race. No single poll can be relied upon. That’s why polling aggregation sites such as fivethirtyeight.com are so dependable. The Governor’s race right now is about a six point lead for Bullock, and we are basing that on the rolling results of about ten surveys over the last few months, and three in the last two weeks. And no, for those of you who might be alarmed that Republicans will somehow use all of this data for their own benefit, worry not: the GOP and the various campaigns all have their own polls, all showing roughly the same stuff, albeit within a wide range created by margin of error and methodology.
Finally, the MSUB poll will soon be published, which is one that is conducted by students.