Hawaii is Americans’ favorite state. That’s according to a Public Policy Polling survey that also ranked Montana as the sixth-favorite state.

Most Montanans will readily understand the popularity of our state. However, a closer look at these poll numbers indicates that most voters surveyed didn’t know enough about Montana to have an opinion of our great state.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Montana. Only 7 percent had an unfavorable opinion, giving our state a “favorable” margin of 32 — good enough for No. 6.

What about the 54 percent of Americans polled who didn’t express an opinion? The results hint that if more knew us they would like us, too.

The “not sures” ranked even higher among most of Montana’s neighbors. Only 45 percent expressed an opinion about Wyoming; 44 percent gave an opinion on North Dakota; 41 percent opined on Idaho.

However, the 50 percent who had opinions on South Dakota were 42 percent favorable, 8 percent not, making that state the fourth-most-liked state. All the states that ranked more favorably than Montana had a higher percentage of respondents rating them than Montana did: 54 percent see Hawaii positively and only 10 percent negatively, followed in the top 10 by Colorado (44-9), Tennessee (48-14), South Dakota (42-8), Virginia (45-13), Montana (39-7), Alaska (46-17), Oregon (43-14), and North Carolina and Pennsylvania (each 40-11).

The survey suggests the Travel Montana folks have an opportunity to improve women’s opinions of our state. Montana and Wyoming ranked higher with men than with women, but women surveyed were more likely to say they were “not sure” about either state.

Men see North Dakota more favorably by 17 points, Wyoming by 14, Montana by 13 and South Dakota by 10.

PPP surveyed 1,200 American voters in February, 700 in January, 700 in December and 700 in October. The margin of error for the February survey is plus or minus 2.8 percent, and plus or minus 3.7 percent for the other surveys. PPP is a Democratic polling firm, but it states that this poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization.

To know Montana is to love this place we call home. We don’t need a national poll to tell us that, but Montana does need to tell potential visitors.

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