A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

27 April 2017 — 1106 mdt

Gov. Bullock should sign SB-94

Introduced by Whitefish Republican Sen. Keith Regier, and supported by Whitefish and Hungry Horse Democrats Reps. Dave Fern and Zac Perry, SB-94 provides tax relief to a narrow class of property owners, mostly near Whitefish and Flathead Lakes, whose taxes have increased as much as an order of magnitude thanks to trophy homes being built next door.

Most Democrats voted against SB-94, apparently because they want the money for programs they support, and because they fear some rich people will get tax breaks they don’t deserve.

But if the bill is vetoed, Montanans who are not rich will not get tax relief they need and deserve.

Updated. This bill is not perfect. A means test to limit the relief to those who really need it was stripped out by the conference committee. But on a balance of equities basis, it’s still good enough to sign. The means test, which Director of Revenue Mike Kadas recommended, can be restored in the 2019 legislative session.

Emerson College poll should not be dismissed as a GOP trick

Yesterday, Montana Public Radio reported that a poll conducted by a student at Emerson College in Boston last week found Greg Gianforte leading Rob Quist 52–37 percent. The poll was conducted by interactive voice technology, better known as robopolling, and sampled only Montanans with landlines who said they were likely to vote. The sample size was 648, with 636 registered, and 12 unregistered, voters.

According to Emerson’s press release:

Gianforte had 90% of the Republican vote, and 38% of the Independent vote. Quist picks up 69% of the Democratic Party’s vote, with 26% of Democrats report planning to cross party lines and vote for Gianforte. Gianforte is getting 87% of Trump voters, while 88% of Clinton voters are likely to vote for Quist.

Emerson released the poll’s crosstabs and raw data.

The robocalling technology raises caution flags because it excludes cell phones (robocalling cell phones is illegal). But the poll should not be dismissed because of the technology employed.

Nor should the poll be dismissed because the student conducting it has ties to Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts. The student, his faculty advisor, and Emerson College, all benefit most from running an honest poll and getting accurate results.

At Fivethirtyeight, Nate Silver gave Emerson an overall grade of “B” for quality. His colleague, Harry Entan, does warn that special elections are hard to poll. And he reports that an analysis of polls for other special congressional elections indicates that the actual error rate is approximately double the theoretical MOE:

…special election polls (like all polls) are inexact. We collected 54 polls from special House elections that have taken place since 2004 and for each compared the leading candidate’s share in the poll with the final election results, taking into account undecideds. We found the true margin of error to be about +/- 8.5 percentage points. That’s almost double the theoretical margin of error posted for most of the polls conducted for the Georgia 6 special election. Even if we compare the average polling share that the leading candidate received in the 22 races that these 54 polls were taken in, the margin of error is still about +/- 7.5 points.

Emerson’s poll is not good news for Rob Quist’s campaign. It will close the wallets of donors, and dampen the enthusiasm of volunteers. Therefore Quist’s campaign and/or the Montana Democratic Party, may try, directly or indirectly, to discredit the poll. That’s human nature. It’s also a mistake.

Given the history of elections for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House, Emerson’s numbers are not unreasonable. But they come with very wide error bars.

This gig was not a cover-up

The Washington Free Beacon, probably neither the most reputable nor the most restrained publication, reported yesterday that Rob Quist is a “frequent performer” at the Sun Meadow Resort, “Idaho’s premier nudist resort for guests seeking a ‘family nudist experience.’”

Quist was chaperoned by his daughter, Halladay, and her by him, and both performed fully clothed.

If Gianforte’s campaign features this gig in an attack ad … Lord have mercy, the brown paper wrapper possibilities are endless.