Voters casting midterm election ballots in Montana are divided over the state of the nation, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.
AP VoteCast found that slightly less than half of Montana voters said the country is on the right track, while slightly more said it’s headed in the wrong direction.
In Montana, voters were deciding elections for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and four ballot issues, including one to extend the state’s expanded Medicaid program. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester faced Republican challenger Matt Rosendale in his bid for a third term. President Donald Trump traveled to the state four times to boost Rosendale’s campaign.
In the race for the state’s sole House seat, Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte sought to keep his job 16 months after winning a special election to finish the term of Ryan Zinke, who left to become Trump’s Interior secretary. Gianforte, best known nationally for assaulting a reporter last year, faced Democrat Kathleen Williams, a former state lawmaker who is one of a record number of women running for office this year nationwide.
Here’s a snapshot of who voted and why in Montana, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 139,000 voters and nonvoters — including 2,667 voters and 252 nonvoters in the state of Montana — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.
Health care was at the forefront of voters’ minds: about 3 in 10 named it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year’s midterm elections. About one-fifth of voters considered the economy paramount, while another fifth picked immigration. Just 1 in 10 voters named the environment, and fewer than that said foreign policy.
*STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Montana voters have a positive view of the nation’s economic outlook. Two-thirds said the nation’s economy is good, compared with one-third who said it’s not.
Montana’s unemployment rate is 3.6 percent, a hair under the national rate of 3.7 percent, which is a five-decade low, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For about one-third of Montana voters, Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their ballots. About one-third said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and the final third said they voted to express opposition to Trump.
Voters in Montana had mixed views of Trump: 47 percent said they approve of his performance, while 52 percent said they disapprove.
RACE FOR SENATE
In the race for Senate, voters under 45 preferred Tester to Rosendale. Older voters were divided.
Voters with a college education were more likely to favor Tester. Likewise, voters without a college degree modestly supported Tester.
CONTROL OF CONGRESS
Tuesday’s elections will determine control of Congress in the final two years of Trump’s first term in office, and roughly two-thirds of Montana voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. Another 1 in 5 said it was somewhat important.
STAYING AT HOME
In Montana, about 8 in 10 registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — about 9 in 10 — did not have a college degree. About as many nonvoters were Democrats as Republicans.
Election results can be found HERE.