Poll: Montanans support grizzly bear ESA protection, Tester's Wilderness bill, and the wolf hunt

Scientific survey shows thumbs up for Schweitzer, Tester, Rehberg; big drop for Baucus-

Story in the Missoulian. Baucus’ approval rating among Montanans drops by 20 percent. By Matt Gouras. Associated Press

In any survey, it is good to look at the actual questions. Here are the full survey results.



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  1. April clauson Avatar
    April clauson

    So they want to protect Grizzlies, but not wolves, grizzles kill livestock to, do they not? Just by the pole questions, you can tell that Montana is rather backwards on their thinking. Guess if your pro wildlife in MT, you will not be getting votes!

  2. nabeki Avatar

    I’d be interested on seeing how the poll was constructed because so many areas of the state are very conservative. The biggst liberal areas in are Missoula and Bozeman. Living in the Flathead I know what it’s like to be outshouted on wildlife issues. BUT it has changed. I’m surprised by the high numbers of approval on the wolf hunt, so would love to see the polling data.


  3. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    I wonder why they didn’t ask any health care questions in the poll – unless I missed it as I glanced through.

  4. jdubya Avatar

    “”Legalizing marijuana received support from just 25 percent.”

    Dude! Guess I won’t be moving to Montana.

  5. Elk275 Avatar

    Over 75% of the people were for a wolf hunt that is a very high number

  6. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    I live in Montana, but nobody asked me … I don’t have a LAN phone. You have to ask methodology and whether these things get skewed demographically.

    I’d suspect most Montanans do favor the wolf hunt; even under the biggest margin of error here, that would be true. However, I think that number is high all the same. Demographics are changing, and I suspect those least likely to support a wolf hunt are like me, not reachable by a pollster.

  7. Cris Waller Avatar

    I think the difference between the wolf and grizzly responses was because the grizzly question was worded “Do you feel that grizzly bears found in Yellowstone Park and the surrounding area should be protected under the federal government’s endangered-species list, or should they be removed from this list?” makes people think that they are being asked about the grizzlies *in* Yellowstone, which most people probably do want to protect.

  8. Elk275 Avatar


    ++I live in Montana, but nobody asked me … I don’t have a LAN phone. You have to ask methodology and whether these things get skewed demographically.++

    But that is true for any other poll regardless of what they are asking. Polling companies are well aware of the cell phone only and adjust accordingly.

  9. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Elk275, they do and they don’t. It depends on the polling firm and the methodology; a firm can’t overdo it, or they skew the results a priori without any actual evidence (though, some do – some pollsters, like Zogby, are notorious for overdoing it. Or, they find other polling methods, etc. It really depends, but in this case, there’s no doubt that the source of error wouldn’t be significant enough to change the results.

    Well, lest this devolve into fivethirtyeight.com …

  10. Elk275 Avatar


    In the spring of 1972, in Missoula, it was a beauiful spring day; I was not into statistics that afternoon, I wanted to be riding my bike or drinking beer. Then, I remembered the professor saying, “that statistics don’t lie, liers use statistics”. It was the truest of true statements.

  11. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    He hit the nail square on the head, statistics are used to prove the desired outcome of a persons or a groups opinion on matters

  12. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The link to the actual survey provides a lot of information on their methods.

    This is way more technical information than you get in your typical newspaper article, or especially television story, on a poll.

    I think before anyone praises or criticizes the accuracy of this survey, they should go to my link to the survey and read the technical introduction.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Elk275 wrote:
    November 17, 2009 at 12:41 PM


    In the spring of 1972, in Missoula, it was a beauiful spring day; I was not into statistics that afternoon, I wanted to be riding my bike or drinking beer. Then, I remembered the professor saying, “that statistics don’t lie, liers use statistics”. It was the truest of true statements.

    People also say, “You can prove anything with statistics.” They should actually say, “You can prove anything with statistics to someone who doesn’t know how to interpret statistics.” RM

  14. timz Avatar

    I think 75% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

  15. nabeki Avatar

    Save Bears says:
    He hit the nail square on the head, statistics are used to prove the desired outcome of a persons or a groups opinion on matters.
    Ding! We have a winner….lol.

  16. gline Avatar

    Baucus dropping in popularity has always been an issue LOL.

  17. gline Avatar

    414 is the sample size? Way too small to represent MT. They probably called 2 people from Missoula.

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Assuming this really was a well drawn, random sample of 414, plus or minus 5% is about right for percentages that are near 50%. For answers near the extremes, such as the wolf hunt, accuracy increases.

    However, surveys also have non-sampling error due to mistakes made during data collection, data entry and data analysis. That figure’s size is unknown but always present.

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    They drew a telephone sample. in principle this allows them to do a better sample than a simple random sample because they can guarantee the right number of phones in each town or city.

    However, a phone sample is of phones, not people, and doing this has become complicated with more and more cell phones around. Lots of work arounds have had to be developed.

    I’d bed, however, that approximate the right number of phones came from Missoula.

  20. bigbrowntrout Avatar

    I dont think its that hard to believe in this state. Theres alot of wolves around. I like many don’t think 75 is too many.

  21. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Supporting a wolf hunt should NOT be interpreted as a strong anti-wolf expression of opinion by the average person. The state game departments were probably well aware that the phrase, “lets manage wolves like other game,” has an easy public appeal.

    That’s why I say, “Montana should manage bison like other game,” not as livestock by the Department of Livestock. The public ought to go with that too.
    – – – –
    Note: when I first posted this comment I forget the put in the “NOT”

  22. bigbrowntrout Avatar

    I agree on the bison 100 percent

  23. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    April – Montanans are backwards in their thinking – really – in addition to the numbers provided above, the poll also asked Montanans approval of Obama The Boy King = 37% approval and of the Federal Porkulus/Stimulus Bill = 28% approval. Clearly, as backwards as we are we do indeed see the truth – a con artist and fraud. Please wake up and grow up!!!!!!!!!Have a great day.

  24. catbestland Avatar

    Talks with Bears,

    Your comment and your statistics prove April’s comment about the backwardness of Montanan’s thinking to be true.

  25. gline Avatar

    Ralph: Thanks for your input about the survey…I have a BA in Sociology and have taken stats classes. right now I am working for the Bureau of Economic Research doing telephone surveys for the University! My prob with this is that 414 is not enough. (Not that it would change the results, necessarily, and I am making cynical assumptions about 2 calls from Missoula-It doesnt say in the abstract how many form randomly drawn from where) but the sample size is just too small for me. I have always felt that way about any research/survey.

  26. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Catbestland – We Montanans hate to disappoint you – not as progressive as you my friend. Maybe you can head up here and enlighten us with your economic and mathematical prowess????

  27. SAP Avatar

    Talks W/Bears:

    I’d like my fellow Montanans & Americans to have well-informed opinions on the important issues of the day. So, I’ll share this link to a story that outlines how the vast majority of economists believe the stimulus package probably saved us from economic calamity:


    “Economists generally agree that the package has played a significant part in stabilizing the economy.”

    Note also that a lot of economists — like Paul Krugman of Princeton — believe that the stimulus package should have been far larger, with more measures directly related to job creation. Get people back to work, people have money to spend, consumer demand goes, treasury receipts go up, and so on.

    A lot of folks I talk to confuse the stimulus package with the corporate bailouts of AIG and others, but that was a different package that was done by former President Bush.

    And seriously, what’s this “Boy King” crap? I’ll assume you don’t mean any racial dig by that. I’d say “Boy King” applied way better to George W. Bush, the “Fortunate Son” who never got anything done in his whole life without Dad’s connections.

    I think there’s a lot of subconscious psychological defense going on amongst those who supported George W. Bush. There’s no way around it, his presidency was an unmitigated disaster: got us into an unnecessary trillion-dollar-plus war (Iraq) while letting a just and necessary military action (going after al Qaeda in Afghanistan) languish; cut taxes while waging wars, erasing what had been a robust government surplus; so on and so forth. Folks who voted once or twice for that team of looters are probably having a hard time rationalizing what they did, so they make themselves feel better by disparaging the guy who replaced him. It’s particularly galling to Bush supporters that President Obama is so popular, and that he really, truly, genuinely, GOT ELECTED PRESIDENT. HE WON THE POPULAR VOTE. If you resent his popularity and the great sense of relief people felt that the Bush years had ended, well. It’s not Obama’s fault that Bush was such a disaster.

  28. SAP Avatar

    TWB – we do agree on one thing, though: Ms Clauson’s high-handed labeling of Montanans is pretty grating.

    Yes, grizzlies do kill livestock, but not very often. Grizzlies are asleep for almost half the year, and when they’re awake, they eat a lot of vegetation. Wolves are awake all year, and they’re not out there living on dandelions, clover, and huckleberries.

    Also, I would argue that supporting a wolf hunt does not necessarily indicate that Montanans hate wolves. Wolf populations can and do grow quickly, so they can probably absorb the hunt’s mortality. It’s too bad that we found out the hard way that wolves on the park boundary were very easy to hunt, but statewide the population will survive the 2009 hunt.

    You should be thankful that people support grizzly conservation, rather than complaining that they don’t love wolves as much as you do.

  29. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Yes, a sample of 414 is pretty small; but it is plenty large to determine the Montanans support a wolf hunt, are at least split and maybe favorable to ESA protection of the grizzly bear, and Max Baucus’ popularity is down.

    So you are doing telephone surveys yourself. I formerly designed and conducted some, but it has been over ten years. I would be interested in the latest how they deal with cell phones.

  30. gline Avatar

    No, I do telephone surveys for the university, not for me.. for their various research. All I do is the random telephone survey part…we are doing a cell phone survey right now. The basic thing I remember from getting my BA in sociology stats classes was that telephone surveys were not really valid, ie not everyone does not have a phone, hence the research does not represent a true random selection. Phone usage has changed over the years, but cell phones add a new dimension to that.
    YOu know the three topics they choose would be predictable.. easy A.

  31. gline Avatar

    *not everyone has
    I think its naptime

  32. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    SAP – the same economist that predicted with the Stimulus the unemployment rate would not exceed 8%? If the Stimulus was so successful why now is the duly elected President having a Jobs Summit? I assume you think that stealing tax revenues from future generations to increase the size and scope of the federal government is a fabulous idea? What color is the kool aid???? “The Boy King” – is not crap nor racial – remember your history lessons? The “worst” KINGS were the Boy Kings – juvenilles with few life or work experinces – too arrogant, with no ability to learn – enough said? Popularity – please note the poll I referenced.

  33. SAP Avatar

    TwB asked
    “I assume you think that stealing tax revenues from future generations to increase the size and scope of the federal government is a fabulous idea?”

    Terrible idea, just like stealing from future generations to start wars of imperial conquest. Just like it’s a terrible idea to do nothing about climate change or public health. Do you think it’s a fabulous idea to keep expanding Medicare entitlements for everyone over 65, while we ignore the health of everyone under 65? You want to see stealing from future generations, wait til all those unhealthy people hit 65 and need their Lipitor, quadruple bipasses, and knee replacements.

    I do think that running deficits for awhile to recover from an unprecedented economic meltdown (brought on by inadequate regulation of the private sector) is an acceptable risk.

    Maybe you need a history lesson, TwB. The US is not a monarchy. Bush-Cheney sure acted like it. I’d say “few life or work experiences — too arrogant, with no ability to learn” describes the previous occupant of the White House to a T.

  34. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    SAP – so we can agree on stealing from future generations? This is great progress – I would like for true Americans like you and I to reach out and put country first not political personalities or parties. The two political parties have brought us to this place. Now, WE need to speak up and be heard so that people of truth and honor can be elected and bring about the changes this country needs.

  35. SAP Avatar

    TwB – agreed! (Not that it’s ok to steal, but that we need to get beyond personalities and parties).

  36. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    SAP – glad to hear. Hopefully, we can cobble a future together.

  37. April clauson Avatar
    April clauson

    Just read on YS newpaper that Judge Molley upheld his decision to keep the YS grizzly bears on protected status. Also looks like they are discussing bear spray rules, and educating hunters, hikers, etc on how to handle bear situations, and maybe require all to carry bear spray! YIPPIE!!!

  38. April clauson Avatar
    April clauson

    Oh and to all that get offended by what I said about Montana folks, don’t take it personal, I say the same thing about Idaho and Wyoming and Alaska!!! to me these area’s are the last stronghold for our wild life, and the states and most, not all, folks that live in these states just don’t seem to get it or care….

  39. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Talks with Bears,

    This is straight economics, nothing about wildlife, but during a recession, the government always runs a deficit, whether it has a stimulus program or not.

    The reason is that tax revenues fall when businesses don’t thrive and people lose their jobs or are put on reduced hours.

  40. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    One thing relevant to wildlife and the stimulus I did find the other day, is that some of it is going to land management agencies for what I see as deferred maintenance.

    This is a very small example. I go up into the hills for a while most days. Near Pocatello I drove to a place called Lead Draw. There the Forest Service was putting in boulders to stop hill-climbing by off-roaders and a nice kiosk giving national forest visitors recreation and other information. I asked them about it, and they said it was money from the stimulus.

    Then I drove up the East Fork (locals will know what I am talking about) to the state section. There people from the state Department of Lands were seeding a meadow that had been tromped out by years of informal recreational camping (and a lot of partying). They were using seed that would soon be discarded. They were indirectly feeding off the federal stimulus money.

    While this is just a small thing, I was told there are a number of other projects on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest being fed this way. This is how I wish a lot of the stimulus was being spent.

    In fact, I don’t really know what it is being spent for. The Administration has failed to promote their own self interest in their failure to publicize what they are spending it on.

  41. April clauson Avatar
    April clauson

    Well I know they gave AZ 38 million I believe for forest services, they are using it to repair and upgrade roads, camps, and research on impacts of off road travel in the forest. So it has helped us a bit, as they were talking of closing state parks and camp’s…

  42. April clauson Avatar
    April clauson


    If this link works, click on your state and it tells you where the stimulus money is being used and for what in your state.

  43. gline Avatar

    Wow MT has a lot of money – wish there some jobs for us women…

  44. jburnham Avatar

    You can see a map with details on stimulus spending from this site: http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx

    Just find your area and click on a dot to see details of the spending.

  45. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks for the information . . . very useful.

    I was obviously wrong when I said the expenditures were not being tracked.

  46. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph – the deficit we are currently facing is of course in part due to lower tax collections by the federal government however, the massive increase in federal spending is the major reason the deficit is completly out of control. The current stimulus has illustrated to every American that the federal government cannot create or save enough jobs to keep the economy stable or growing for any length of time – even with all of this unsustainable spending we have 10% unemployment and at best a short term boost in GDP. In short, Americans and especially small business owners have no confidence in the leadership to change course to a sustainable model of economic growth – please remember that the government has to take money from the private economy first before it can provide a stimulus. I wish I had better news but, we are where we are.

  47. JB Avatar

    Talks with Bears:

    Take a quick peak at the Federal budget. We could easily end our deficit today by getting out of the war business. We spend proportionally less on social welfare programs than any other post-industrialized nation.

    FYI: The difference between Democrats and Republicans amounts to a lot of ideological jabber and subtle spending shifts. Republicans emphasize war and defense spending and cut social programs at home, Democrats put more money in social programs and less into war and defense.

  48. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    JB is right. Maybe we should run up the deficit on war and defense instead of spending at home, but both parties have run up the deficit.

    The only Administration to balance the annual budget and run a surplus in many years was the Clinton Administration for two years. At that time, there was even talk about how maybe this would continue and the national debt someday be paid off. Well, as we can see that was short-lived.

    You are right that business doesn’t have the confidence to spend. Neither do consumers. So, who is going to begin the spending lest the recession be permanent?

  49. Mike Avatar

    Obama has been in office 10 months, inherited two wars and inherited the greatest economic collapase since the great depression.

    With that in mind, I would think most sane people would wait another year or two before starting to judge the effect of his policies.

    On top of that, Obama is trying to completely revamp our health care system which is broken and undeniably corrupt. Half of all bankruptcy filings are due to medical debt. This is a huge economic issue. If people have affordable health care without worry of rate jacking or pre existing conditions, they will purchase more consumer goods.

    Sure, I may not be happy with all of the things Obama has done on the environment, but make no mistake that this president is 100x more competent than the Bush administration in all matters.

  50. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Wow, Mike,

    That is a pretty broad statement!

  51. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Ralph says “So, who is going to begin the spending lest the recession be permanent?”
    Ralph – I will speak to where my experience lies – small business. Once the small business person has confidence in the ability of the political class to choose prudent and sound policy they will place capital at risk. As we speak, there are small businesses that have excess demand for their products – mainly due to competitors leaving markets- however, they will not hire or expand due to the unknowns of health care reform, cap and trade and the devaluation of the dollar. My clients are small business owners and they do not trust the current leadership in the executive or legislative branch. So, I submit the recovery will begin when the small business owner can have trust and confidence in the leadership of this country.

  52. Mike Avatar

    I’m a small business owner and greatly look forward to the health care reform which passed the House.

    Let’s not forget, Talks with Bears that this economic colapse happened on the watch of GWB. I also can tell you that without the intervention of the feds, thousands of small businesses would have been destroyed when the banks collapsed.

    It’s only natural that small business is now wary – it’s the largest negative economic situation since the great depression.

  53. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    JB – your analysis has been mostly correct until recently. Now the democrats are big war spenders – continuing one and ramping up another – and the republicans & democrats decided too big to fail must be funded and I could go on of course. JB – you sound like a reasonable person, maybe you should run for office – just think, no pressure, you cannot do any worse than this current or past group.

  54. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Mike – have you read the bill passed by the House?

  55. Mike Avatar

    Parts of it. Outstanding piece of work. I would have preferred universal health care or “single player”, but this is a good start to fixing the extortion scheme that is our current health care industry.

  56. Mike Avatar

    er…typo there. Should read “single payer”.

  57. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    Mike – if you have read parts of the House bill and you “greatly look forward to it” you have identified the main issue seperating you and I. You TRUST the politicians that wrote it and I do not.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan