If a recent Montana State University-Bozeman poll is accurate, most Big Sky respondents believe the coronavirus was created in a laboratory and spread by China.

Montanans generally think all levels of government are doing a good job of containing COVID-19 with prudent policies, including stay-at-home mandates.

Voters in Montana favor Donald J. Trump as their choice for president. They think the government is correct in providing significant funding to help Americans and U.S. businesses financially stressed by the recent pandemic; and they believe Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock should replace Republican Steve Daines as their U.S. senator in the November 2020 election.

According to the online poll — conducted by three MSU researchers and a colleague from the University of Denver — most people in Montana either strongly approve of the way President Trump has handled the coronavirus outbreak, or they strongly disapprove.

Conversely, a significant number of people polled in Montana approve of the way Gov. Bullock has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GOP Sen. Steve Daines and Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester received roughly the same approval ratings in the poll, indicating party affiliation was not a significant factor in how people answered the questions.

The MSU poll of 459 Montana residents supports the notion that Montana voters are evenly split when it comes to party affiliation. More than two-thirds of respondents from Montana identified either as Republicans or Independents, while about 23% identified as Democrats. Titled “Western States Coronavirus Survey: Montana – Politics and Policy Questions,” the online poll was conducted in April 2020. Respondents from Montana were asked almost three dozen questions to gauge their opinions of how national, state and local governments have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key demographics:

• Gender: 50% of respondents were women and 49.5% identified as men

• Age: approximately 65% of respondents were between 30–69 and almost 20% were between 18–29

• Race: 89.16% of respondents stated they are white

• Income: 16.3% claimed to have incomes in the $60,000–$80,000 range while 15.22% listed their incomes as $20,000–$30,000; about 22% stated they earn less than $20,000 and nearly 25% claim to make more than $80,000

• Party: 22.66% stated they are Democrats, 33.65% were registered Republicans and 31.48% claimed to be Independents

• Education: 50.75% listed high school as their highest level of education completed, while more than 30% claimed to have college degrees

Survey revealed:

• Most people polled said they either support or strongly support stay-at-home policies implemented by every level of government: national, state and local

• More than 54% of respondents approve or strongly approve of the way President Trump has handled the coronavirus outbreak

• More than 70% of respondents approve or strongly approve of the job Gov. Steve Bullock has done in handling the coronavirus crises in Montana

• 45.32% of respondents stated they would vote for President Trump compared to 39.65%, who favored presumed Democratic opponent Joe Biden

• About 42% of respondents approve of the way U.S. senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines have handled the coronavirus in Washington D.C.

• Almost 70% of Montanans approve of how their local government officials have handled the coronavirus

• About 76% of respondents approve of how their local school districts have dealt with the coronavirus

• 46.19% of respondents stated they would vote for Democrat Steve Bullock compared to 39.22% who stated they would vote for Republican Steve Daines for U.S. Senate

• 58.02% of respondents believe the federal government’s involvement in coronavirus policies is about right

• 83.97% of respondents support giving billions of dollars in assistance to small businesses

• 79.21% of respondents believe state government involvement in coronavirus policies is about right

• 52.74% of respondents agreed with government social-distancing orders, while 47.26% stated people should take personal responsibility without mandates

• 78.29% of respondents believe their local government’s involvement in coronavirus policies is about right

• More than 71% of respondents support or strongly support stay-at-home policies implemented by the state of Montana

• More than 57% of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that China is to blame for spreading the coronavirus and distorting the truth about it

Primary researchers who administered the online survey and compiled the reports: Eric Raile, Ph.D., Political Science Dept., MSU-Bozeman; David Parker, Ph.D., Political Science Dept., MSU-Bozeman; Elizabeth Shanahan, D.A., Political Science Dept., MSU-Bozeman; Pavielle Haines, Ph.D., Center on American Politics, University of Denver.

The complete Montana poll results can be viewed at http://helpslab.montana.edu/Montana_results.html

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