HELENA – A solid majority of Montanans opposes repealing the state’s death penalty, and a majority favors relaxing environmental law to encourage more coal, oil and gas development in the state, a Lee Newspapers poll shows.

The poll, taken earlier this week, also showed support among Montanans for a “right to work” law, which would forbid contracts that require labor-union membership or dues for certain jobs.

And, more Montanans oppose than support the idea of state tax credits for parents who send their children to private schools, the poll showed.

Lee Newspapers hired Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., to poll 625 registered Montana voters who said they are likely to vote in the upcoming general election.

The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

The poll surveyed Montanans on how they planned to vote on key races in the Nov. 6 election, but also asked their opinion on several key issues facing the state.

The results included:

n Death penalty: By a nearly 2-1 margin, Montanans surveyed opposed repealing the state’s death penalty for certain crimes, as 57 percent opposed repealing the penalty and 30 percent supported repeal. Thirteen percent were undecided.

The Montana Legislature, in recent sessions, has rejected bills that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. Montana has only two convicted murderers on death row.

n Regulations and fossil fuel development: The poll asked whether Montana should relax its regulatory and environmental laws to encourage more development of fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas.

Fifty-two percent of those polled said yes; 39 percent said no and 9 percent were undecided.

n “Right to work”: Of those polled, 49 percent said they support making Montana a “right to work” state, while 40 percent said they did not. Eleven percent were undecided.

Right-to-work laws forbid labor unions from negotiating contracts with employers that would require workers to belong to a union or support the union with dues. Most Montana Republican candidates have supported right-to-work laws, while Democrats oppose it.

n Tax credits for private education: Forty-five percent of those polled said they oppose offering state tax credits to parents who send their kids to private schools, 38 percent said they support such credits, and 17 percent were undecided.

Rick Hill, the Republican candidate for governor, supports creating a state tax credit for donations to a private foundation that would offer scholarships to children attending private schools.


In three of the four questions, the responses of men and women who were polled greatly differed.

A majority of women said environmental regulations should not be relaxed to encourage fossil fuel development; women were split on whether Montana should be a right-to-work state; and women strongly opposed tax credits to support private school students.

Men overwhelmingly wanted to relax the environmental regulations, strongly supported right-to-work legislation and supported the tax credits by a 46 percent to 36 percent margin.

Those who identified themselves as Democrats and Republicans also differed dramatically in their responses, while those who said they are Independents generally reflected the overall result of the poll on each question.

Fifty percent of Democrats polled supported repealing the death penalty, while only 12 percent of Republicans did.

Democrats opposed relaxing environmental regulations by a more than 2-1 margin, while Republicans favored weaker regulations by more than a 3-1 margin.

Republicans favored a right-to-work law by a nearly 5-1 margin and Democrats opposed it nearly 3-1.

On the issue of tax credits to support private school students, Democrats opposed them by a 3-1 margin and Republicans supported it by a 2-1 margin.

Of those polled, 36 percent said they are Republicans, 34 percent said they’re Democrats and 30 percent said they are Independents.

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If we get another 4 years of the current regime, including lap dog Tester, energy prices will sky-rocket. Obama has made it clear he wants to kill the coal industry. Under another 4 years of Obama you can be assured not one more coal fired plant will be allowed to be built, and dozens more will be forced out of business as has already happened. There will also be no new refineries, or nuclear plants permited if he gets in. He openly said we need gas to get around $6 a gallon so people start buying into electric cars. My brother lives in Indiana, his electric has went up 32% in the last 3 years because of coal fired plants being shut down. That is only the beginning. Our NEW coal plants are the cleanest burning in the world. Yet we want to shut coal down while allowing China to build dirty plant after dirty plant. If you want to go after coal, put you efforts into China and try to get them to clean up their huge pollution problem (much of which makes it way to the US). We need to go after all forms of energy, not just solar and wind.

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