Montanans Show Support for Business in Annual Chamber Poll

December 05, 2016




December 2, 2016
CONTACT: Bridger Mahlum, 406-442-2405 ext. 102;

The Power-Base (P-base) is an annual scientific survey of 800 Montana voters on a variety of business and political issues with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. The poll was conducted during the month of November 2016. It has been commissioned by the Montana Chamber of Commerce since 1992 to determine what ordinary Montanans think about the business community and important economic issues facing our state. Read the full report.

The Montana Chamber of Commerce annual Power-Base (P-base) survey of 800 voters statewide in Montana reveals that business organizations like the Montana Chamber of Commerce are well-regarded by voters throughout the state and voters are more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by the Montana Chamber than a labor union, environmental group, or trial lawyer organization.

There is widespread consensus among Montanans that the state’s business community deserves the most credit for economic growth, not public officials. Business in general is trusted to treat the environment and workers fairly.

Additionally, voters responded on specific policy issues such as health care, infrastructure, education, and taxation.

“The Power-Base survey quantifies the priorities set forth in our 10-year strategic plan Envision 2026. We are pleased to see Montanans’ high regard for the state’s business community and are committed to making Montana an even better place to do business,” stated Webb Brown, Montana Chamber President and CEO.

Coal Tax for Infrastructure
In terms of finding revenue to boost infrastructure investment, Montana voters would support legislation that would cap the Coal Tax Trust Fund at a balance of $1 billion and have future funds invested in critical infrastructure projects around the state (69% support, 14% oppose).  This proposal finds majority support throughout the state, among all voter subgroups, including Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

CoalPerceptions of Interest Groups
In the current survey we asked voters which one of four candidates they are more likely to vote for, a candidate endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce is most popular (for 39%), followed by a candidate endorsed by environmental groups (21%), a candidate endorsed by labor unions (16%) and a candidate endorsed by the Montana trial lawyers (4%).  Another 11% say none and 9% don’t have an opinion on the matter.

Candidate websitePerceptions of Montana Businesses
Voters hold Montana’s businesses in high regard. Nearly seven-in-ten (67%) say the state’s business community deserves the most credit for economic growth, while just 23% would attribute economic growth to public officials. Majorities of voters trust that Montana businesses can be expected to do the right thing to protect the environment and treat their workers fairly when it comes to workplace benefits.

Additionally, 59% believe “businesses can be trusted to take good care of the state’s natural resources and the government should intervene only in the worst cases,” but 36% say “many businesses will cut corners and damage the environment unless strong government rules and regulations are in place.” Montanans are more than three times as likely to say they “trust businesses to follow the rules set for them” than they are to believe “businesses can’t be trusted to follow rules” (70-23%).

Fully 77% say businesses get things done more efficiently than government.

Trust websiteOther Issues

  • More than eight-in-ten voters support legislation that would require doctors, hospitals and surgical clinics to provide price estimates to customers having a planned major medical event, prior to their procedure – 85% support, 9% oppose.  Sentiment on this issue is strong, as fully 56% “strongly” support this idea.
  • Two-thirds of Montana voters (67%) say they would support legislation that would change the criteria of the resort tax to allow more local communities to implement a resort tax if at least 50% of the revenues collected would be allocated to funding critical-need infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and water systems.  The remaining 33% would oppose this legislative proposal.  Further, among supporters of the proposal, changing both the economic and population criteria is favored by 48% of voters, while 22% would change only the economic requirement and 11% would change only the population requirement.
  • By a 48-28% margin, Montana voters believe a two-year degree, technical program or certificate better prepares students for the workforce than a four-year undergrad degree.  Another 11% say both are equally beneficial, 2% say neither and 10% are undecided.


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