So who should you vote for? We know from the MSU-Billings Poll that came out on October 17 that up to 60% of voters are still undecided on who they’ll vote for.
Now, you have to remember that the poll only asked 410 people over the phone, so it might be best taken with a liberal dosage of salt. Regardless, I’m willing to bet half of those voting are unsure of quite a few candidates, and I know this because I’m still unsure myself when it comes to our Missoula races.
Let’s get into the important races in Montana today so you, and I, can figure out how best to survive the coming Election Tuesday.
Number of Voters in Montana
In Montana’s June 2014 Primary there were 56 counties voting with 693 precincts between them. Missoula has the most precincts, with 52, while several counties have but 1. And of those counties that have but one precinct, you can see how easy it is to get that vote out…and you know that vote will be Republican.
These are places like Wibaux and Petroleum and Meagher Counties. Together those three counties have 2,471 registered voters, yet between them just 1,008 people voted…or around 40%. In Petroleum County just 107 of the 398 registered voters bothered with it, or 26%.
The flip side of this is the big Democratic counties, like Missoula, Silver Bow, and Glacier. Here we have a combined 110,482 voters, yet just 30,657 voted in the June primary, or about 27%. All three counties are abysmal when it comes to turnout, with Glacier getting 33%; Silver Bow getting 32%; and Missoula, with nearly four times as many voters, getting 26%.
That’s how elections are lost, right there, it doesn’t get any simpler. Of course that’s the primary, and all the experts will tell you those numbers will tick-up for the General. Well, we’ll see how much they tick up, where, and if it makes a difference to the horse you’re backing.
U.S. Senate & House Races in Montana
In the June primary we had two Democrats and five Republicans running. The Democrats picked up 71,368 votes and the Republicans got 131,656…a difference of 60,288 votes, or 65% to 35% for the Republicans.
For the Senate we had three Democrats running against three Republicans. The Democrats managed 75,991 votes against the Republican’s 132,755 votes…a difference of 56,764 votes.
Now, am I the only one interested in the fact that 3,524 Republicans chose not to bother with the U.S. Senate race? I hope not, but I’m not sure it matters – that’s a huge gap there for the Democrats, or around 64% to 36%.
Overcoming the Gap
I signed up to go around and knock on doors the day before election day and on election day here in Missoula, and maybe I’ll head down to their election center before then.
There’s a strong possibility that both the U.S. House and Senate races could both go Democratic if the base is fired up, the swing voters are convinced, and turnout is achieved.
We see those numbers in the primary and we see how poor they are. There’s lots of registered voters (61,987 more than showed up on the primary just here in Missoula!) and they can be turned out.
I’m going to focus my continued Election 2014 efforts here on Missoula and the local races, while still hitting Steve Daines, Ryan Zinke, and Lawrence VanDyke hard each day.
I hope you can do your part – whatever that is – where you live.