As the midterm elections loom over Montana, campaigning is whipping up to a fever pitch. Saturday’s visit from President Donald Trump drew a crowd of thousands to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Belgrade. Throughout his speech, Trump heralded Montana’s Republicans, Senator Steve Daines, Congressman Greg Gianforte, and Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, as the state’s champions.
But as ballots continue to be turned in, how effective will the president’s time in the Treasure State be for its voters?
Early estimates say Trump’s first three visits have wracked up an aggregate price tag of at least $120,000 for Montanans, mostly coming from paid overtime for security services like sheriff’s deputies and city police. But a quick glance at polling numbers shows Trump’s visits haven’t changed much for voters outside of that cost.
According to polling website FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s apparent foe Jon Tester has stayed ahead of Trump-backed Rosendale in the Senate race, and those numbers have never consistently dropped after Trump’s visits.
The most recent poll shows Tester leading Rosendale 49-43, though that doesn’t account for any possible changes that may have occurred as a result of Trump’s most recent rally.
For Congress, it’s been a bitter back-and-forth between incumbent Gianforte and Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams, with the latest results tying the two 48-48. Again, a look at polling numbers shows Trump’s visits don’t seem to make a consistent mark on either candidate. It should be noted that though Trump does speak highly of Gianforte at his rallies, he is primarily campaigning for Rosendale during his Montana excursions.
Still, polling only says so much. So, I hit the streets to talk to voters in Bozeman. And no matter where voters fell on the political spectrum, they all told me their minds were already made up before the president came to town.
“He’s the president, but I mean, he’s not gonna change my hand and how I like to vote,” native Montanan Hannah Montgomery explained. “Voting should be for what you want to vote for and not what somebody else persuades you to vote for.”
The best case scenario for listening to other’s opinions is getting more information to inform your own decision, says Montgomery, who relied mostly on research to make her decisions for this November.
Election Day 2018 is Tuesday, November 6. Most polls close at 8 PM.
To find your local polling place: https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/