According to the 2018 Business Base (B-Base) poll, Montana voters’ priorities for the next legislative session include improving access to healthcare, controlling government spending and increasing education funding. The poll is annually commissioned by the Montana Chamber of Commerce.
Twenty-three percent of Montanans polled said improving access to healthcare was a top legislative priority for them, 19 percent said controlling government spending and 14 percent prioritized increases in education funding.
The B-Base is a scientific survey of 800 Montana voters on a variety of business and political issues. The project is conducted by Moore Information, a U.S. public opinion research firm.
“This survey has been an important resource for the Montana Chamber and Montana over the years,” said Bridger Mahlum, government relations director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “As the Chamber prepares for the 2019 Legislature, we’ll use this report as a tool to show the Legislature what Montanans care about and their opinions on different business issues.”
The 2018 poll also confirmed many trends the Montana Chamber has seen over previous years.
Business organizations like the Montana Chamber continued to be well-regarded by voters with a 67 percent favorable rating. Additionally, 64 percent of Montanans polled said the state’s business community deserves the most credit for economic growth. Also, 56 percent believe that “businesses can be trusted to take good care of the state’s natural resources and the government should intervene only in the worst cases.”
Montanans are more than twice as likely to “trust businesses to follow the rules set for them” than they are to believe “businesses can’t be trusted to follow rules” (65-26%).
Fully 77% say businesses get things done more efficiently than government.
Health care costs are the top financial concern for Montana voters and have been consistently since 2009, however it dipped slightly as a concern compared to last year.
Looking at voters’ priorities for the next legislative session there is no consensus but top issues are: improving access to health care (23%), controlling government spending (19%) and increasing education funding (14%).
A secure retirement remains a consistent concern at about 14%. Concern about taxation levels has remained consistent as has concern about paying off debt. Concern about their children’s education has decline slightly compare to past years, while the cost of housing has prompted greater concern. The level of concern about any one financial aspect of their lives varies depending on the age group.
There is 2:1 support for coal-fired electricity generation in Montana (60% support, 31% oppose, 9% don’t know).
Nearly six-in-ten (57%) support federal government investing significant resources in order to develop Carbon Capture & Storage technology, while 30% oppose and 13% have no opinion
While business organizations continue to be well-regarded by voters, they are less positive about environmental groups like Montana Conservation Voters (48/32%) and labor unions like the AFL-CIO (43/31%). Voters are least familiar and least impressed with Montana trial lawyers (31/23%). Sentiment regarding each of these groups today is similar to November 2016 and November 2017 surveys.
When voters are asked to describe how much influence they believe these same organizations should have over public policy decisions in the state, the plurality of voters are satisfied with the current level of influence of business organizations like the Chamber (47% right amount), while those who prefer the Chamber’s level of influence are divided about how (20% want more influence, 20% want less influence). At the same time, pluralities of voters with an opinion about how much influence labor unions, environmental groups and trial lawyers should have, say they would like to see each of these groups have less influence on public policy decisions in the state.
The Chamber also continues to be the most positively viewed organization when voters are asked about candidate endorsements. Specifically, a candidate endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce is most popular (for 35%), followed by a candidate endorsed by environmental groups (21%) or by labor unions (18%). Just 4% say they would most likely vote for a candidate endorsed by trial lawyers.
A total of 800 telephone interviews were conducted Nov. 17-19, among a representative sample of registered voters in Montana.