If Public Policy Polling is right, Montanans will see a lot of close elections this year.
The poll showed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock with a slight lead over former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, 44 to 39 percent, and Sen. Jon Tester with a slight lead, 45 to 43 percent. Libertarian Dan Cox is third with 8 percent.
Steve Daines, the GOP hopeful for the state’s lone congressional seat, leads Democrat Kim Gillan 40 to 37 percent, a closer race than many had thought.
Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama 50 to 45 in the Treasure State.
While this looks hopeful for the Democrats, and it certainly is better to be ahead than behind, there are lots of caveats.
PPP results tend to skew slightly toward Democrats. The hardest part of polling is determining which of the respondents are really going to vote on Election Day. PPP tends to think that Democrats will show up in greater numbers. The Rasmussen poll, conducted a couple of months ago, showed Rehberg with a slight lead. Rasmussen tends to lean slightly Republican.
And support for third party candidates tends to dissipate as Election Day draws near. People don’t want to waste their vote on a candidate with no chance of winning, e.g. Democrats who kicked themselves for voting for Ralph Nader and giving the 2000 presidential race to George Bush. Libertarians agree sometimes with Republicans and sometimes with Democrats, but on Election Day, most tend to go with Republicans.
All of this means that the Republican chances may be a bit better than the PPP poll results show. But it also indicates that whoever is ahead now, it’s going to be a close one and a late election night. Usually by election night, you have a pretty good idea who is going to win most of the races. Not so this year.
At Saturday’s Festival Days parade, the Havre Daily News tried something that we believe has never been done. The parade was webcast live on http://www.havredailynews.com.
With a stationary camera on 5th Avenue, we showed the parade as it passed. It wasn’t quite like ABC’s coverage of the Tournament of Roses parade, but it provided people who couldn’t make the parade with a feel for what was going on.
The whole deal was set up by our tech geek Zach White.
A good number of people tuned in, although we had not advertised it ahead of time because, well frankly, we didn’t know how it would turn out. A recorded version is still on the website, so check it out.
You’ll be seeing more of Havre Daily News Live in coming weeks.
Some of us reporters are envious of those in public relations. They tend to work the cushy, 9-to-5 jobs.
They also always try to steer us away from the stories they don’t want printed.
Not so for Claudia Rapkoch, the spokeswoman for NorthWestern Energy’s Butte offices.
I called Friday night after learning that gas service for several hundred residents and for Montana State University-Northern had been shut down.
After 5 p.m., what NorthWestern officials would be available to talk, I thought.
A nice lady at the company’s call center gave me the cellphone number of a company official she thought might be willing to help. Turns out she was not the right person, but she gave me Rapkoch’s cellphone number.
Rapkoch, it turned out, was on vacation, but somehow was still the on-call media relations person. Within a few minutes, she called me back from the base of Pike’s Peak with information on what the problem was, an unusually candid explanation of how it all started, and what the timetable was for getting things back in order.
A few minutes later, the whole story was posted on havredailynews.com.
(John Kelleher is managing editor of Havre Daily News and havredailynews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 265-6795, ext. 17, or 390-0798.)