FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2023
Brandon DeMars, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Lockridge, email@example.com
Middle Fork Poll: Montanans Feel State Headed in Wrong Direction
After historic session, Montanans give lawmakers low marks on key policy areas, express relief over failure of constitutional amendments
(Helena, Mont.) – A recent statewide public opinion poll released today by Middle Fork Strategies shows that Montanans are largely disappointed in the work done by the state’s Republican-led 2023 Legislature, especially on issues of housing, reproductive rights, public education, and healthcare.
A majority of Montanans, by a margin of 50-46 percent, feel the state is on the wrong track, according to the poll conducted one month after the end of the 68th Legislative session. That’s a more pessimistic outlook compared to February, when Middle Fork’s previous public poll showed 51 percent of Montanans with a positive view of the state’s direction, despite disapproval for many legislative proposals.
“Looking at what came out of the legislative session, Montanans aren’t seeing real results that will positively affect their lives,” said Brandon DeMars, executive director of Middle Fork. “Working families in Montana are rightfully asking what was accomplished, and they are deeply concerned about new laws attempting to restrict private healthcare decisions and take funding from community schools.”
When asked about their own financial situation, Montanans’ attitudes were unchanged from earlier polling. Forty-two percent reported that their circumstances had remained the same in the last few years, while 39 percent said they had worsened and 18 percent felt they had improved. However, when asked about their neighbors and others in their community, 51 percent of Montanans said the people around them are doing worse than they were a few years ago, while only six percent saw improvement. This perception is held across party lines and in all areas of the state.
On the issue of reproductive rights, a broad majority of Montanans believe abortion should remain legal in all or most circumstances, consistent with the trends in Middle Fork’s February poll, as well as national research on abortion attitudes. Just one-in-10 residents believe abortion should be illegal outright. When asked about mifepristone, the drug that is prescribed in about half of abortions in the U.S., 63 percent of Montanans felt it should remain on the market. Additionally, 65 percent of respondents believe that Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen does not have the authority to tell local pharmacies whether or not they can stock the medication.
Other key findings from the poll:
58 percent of Montanans believe the state’s schools are inadequately funded.
66 percent oppose tax dollars being reallocated from public schools to private and religious education.
61 percent of Montanans oppose Governor Greg Gianforte’s veto of Senate Bill 442, the Legislature’s bipartisan marijuana tax revenue bill.
74 percent of Montanans say the state’s housing crisis was not addressed well by the 2023 Montana Legislature.
86 percent support maintaining and protecting Montana’s successful Medicaid expansion program.
“Montanans saw many of their elected leaders push an extreme agenda and partisan power grabs, while doing too little to help families put a roof over their heads or defend our freedoms,” DeMars said. “Instead we got tax cuts for the wealthy and bill after bill after bill to recklessly amend our state constitution.”
Sixty-seven proposals to amend Montana’s constitution were introduced over the course of the legislative session, of which 19 received hearings, and all of which failed to reach the required two-thirds vote threshold to advance. A majority of Montanans surveyed were pleased with the amendments’ failure, with 58 percent saying it was a good thing that none of them moved forward. Earlier polling on specific amendments found large majorities opposed a range of proposals to change Montana’s governing document.
The results of Middle Fork’s most recent poll can be found here, and a memo analyzing the findings can be found here. The poll was conducted by Searchlight Research from May 30-June 2, among a 600-participant statewide sample. Responses were captured by live telephone survey to both landline and cell numbers.
Middle Fork Strategies is a multi-issue advocacy and research organization based in Montana. Middle Fork’s goals are to hold accountable those in power and work with like-minded advocacy groups on policies and issues that impact Montana.