Exit Polls Hint at Shift Away From Trump in Montana, But Not by Trump Supporters
For many, the Montana Special Election contest that took place on May 25th was a popularity test for Donald Trump and a trend setter for future elections in the country. Carol College Political Science Professor Alexander Street and his students conducted an exit poll during that election and says results show that Democrat Rob Quist was unable to convince Trump voters to leave the Republican fold.
"Where the president wins and he has majorities in the House and Senate, which is currently the case, it is quite common just two years later for the president's party to lose, I think the average is about 30 seats in the U.S. House. So there is usually a swing back, but what I think you see here is I think it's a bit of a faster swing back than what you might have if Trump was a more popular president."
Trump beat Hillary by over 20 percentage points while Republican Ryan Zinke defeated Democrat Denise Juneau by 16 percentage points before that, but Greg Gianforte only defeated Rob Quist by six percentage points. Though Trump voters didn’t jump ship for Quist, Street sees this decline as part of a broader story.
"I think the most relevant broader context is that we've now had four or five of these special elections to replace somebody since President Trump came into office and we've seen on average something like a 12 or 15 percent swing away from the republicans and toward the democrats and the results we see in Montana are very consistent with that, so [the results] are more or less what we would have expected," Street said.
Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind was what effect the infamous ‘Body Slam’ incident between Greg Gianforte and reporter Ben Jacobs had on the election, Street says it is hard to untangle what happened at the polls after the incident from the absentee ballots that were sent in before, but believes it “may have hurt Gianforte a bit.”