We started in March 2013, but it wasn’t until January 2014 that we really started to follow politics closely.
That’s more than 4 years of paying close attention.
I’ll use that knowledge to inform you today on what I’ll be looking for in Tuesday’s primary.
Let’s get started.
#1 Voter Turnout
In the 2016 Montana Primary, the discrepancy between Democratic voters and Republican voters was immense.
I wrote a post about it called What the Fuck Happened Last Night?!?
Here are the numbers that stood out to me:
- Dem House Turnout in Primary: 44%
- GOP House Turnout in Primary: 56%
2014’s Primary was much worse:
- Dem House Turnout: 40.4%
- GOP House Turnout: 55.4%
- Libertarian Turnout: 4.2%
- Dem Senate Turnout: 40%
- GOP Senate Turnout: 57.8%
- Libertarian Turnout: 2.2%
It’s also important to remember the difference in the number of votes between the 2016 U.S. House race and the 2017 Special Election for the U.S. House.
The number is 126,000.
Yeah…126,000 more people voted in the 2016 U.S. House election than voted in the 2017 Special Election.
In the 2016 general the Dems picked up 40.5% of the vote (206,000 votes) compared to the GOP’s 56.2% (285,000).
In 2017 the Dems picked up 44.4% of the vote (169,000) compared to the GOP’s 50% (190,000).
In 2016 and 2017 the Libertarians took 3.2% (16,000) and 5.7% (22,000), respectively.
Let’s also remember that 2014 was an off-year, and Dems picked up just 149,000 votes in the general…or 43,000 fewer votes than in the 2016 general, and 42,000 fewer than the 2017 special.
And as the years have gone by, we see the picture has only worsened for the Dems.
- 2012 General: GOP 53%, Dems 43%
- 2010 General: GOP 60%, Dems 34%
- 2008 General: GOP 64%, Dems 32%
- 2006 General: GOP 59%, Dems 39%
- 2004 General: GOP 64%, Dems 33%
- 2002 General: GOP 65%, Dems 33%
- 2000 General: GOP 51%, Dems 46%
- 1998 General: GOP 53%, Dems 44%
- 1996 General: GOP 52%, Dems 43%
- 1994 General: Dems 49%, GOP 42%
Yeah…you have to go all the way back to 1994 to get a year when the Dems last won this seat.
That year it was Pat Williams with 49% of the vote (171,000) to the GOP’s 42% (149,000). The Libertarians did amazingly well that year, picking up 9.1% of the vote (32,000).
It’s important to remember that back in 1992 we still had two congressional seats.
Pat Williams won the western seat (the First Seat) with 52% of the vote (204,000). Ron Marlenee won the eastern seat (the Second Seat…added for the 1912 Election) with 63% of the vote (96,000).
That seat lasted 80 years, and as you can see, the discrepancy between the eastern portion of the state’s voters vs. the western portion of the state’s voters was immense (108,000 votes).
God…even then there was a 108,000-vote discrepancy between the two halves of the state.
And it’s only gotten ‘worse’ since then.
My oh my.
Something else that interests me is what the Green Party Turnout will be.
James Conner over at Flathead Memo sent out a tweet the other day saying he doubted the Greens would get 1,000 votes in their primary.
He may be right.
I do suspect, however, that should the Greens be allowed to stay on the ballot come November, the turnout will be much higher.
Dems and Republicans will be a major cause for this:
Voters will be incredibly sick of their nonstop TV and radio ads, all their junk mail, the social media ads, and all the newspaper jargon.
Many are ready for it to end now…and we’ve still got 5 months to go.
God help us.
#2 Legislative Makeup
Yeah, Dems might have the cities, but the Republicans have the wide swaths in between.
And my…there are a lot of those swaths.
It’s why the legislature has looked like this for the past 27 years, with the GOP firmly in control:
Ain’t a pretty picture…if you’re a Dem.
If you’re a Republican, well gosh darn – this is hunky dory!
Dems desperately want to change the makeup of the Montana legislature (meaning they control it…or at least one chamber), but they can’t seem to do that.
One interesting aspect is the MDLCC, or the Montana Democratic Legislative Coordinating Committee.
I feel this is nothing more than a paper tiger. Dems aren’t going to funnel money down to legislative races when Tester desperately needs to win.
I’ve yet to see a single MDLCC donation to a Dem candidate, and I doubt I’ll see many before the general.
#3 Dem Staff Actions vs. Result
Well…is that money well spent?
I told you just a few weeks ago that the Montana Democratic Party spent $162,000 to keep it’s 23 staffers on staff.
Compare this to the $13,000 the Montana Republican Party spent to keep its 4 staffers on staff.
So, if money does indeed win elections, then the Dems should have an easy go of it…right?
The losses will be monumental, just as they were in 2014 and 2016.
Dems will of course search for that silver lining, and maybe some facet of the House race will give that to them.
With 23 people on staff, I’m sure we’ll get something along that vein.
But wouldn’t you know it? The same thing’s happened year after year, and the Dem brass in Helena (sometimes called the Helena mafia) has remained the same.
Win, lose or draw…they keep their jobs.
Will 2018 be different?
Should Tester lose in November, yes. But I think we all know that’s a long shot…unless…
#4 How Badly Does the GOP Damage Itself?
Mike Dennison had some good reporting on it on Thursday, and one thing that we both agree on is that Al Olszewski is doing a lot better than he was a few months ago.
The reason is simple – the other GOPers are beating the hell out of each other.
Al’s right – the public may be turned off by all this infighting, and Tester will have added ammo to use against these fools come November.
Currently it’s Rosendale vs. Fagg…or more appropriately, the independent PACs that are funding all the attack ads.
I will admit – considering the backing of Lola Zinke (which perhaps ain’t worth much to begin with) – that I’m surprised ol’ California Troy ain’t doin’ better.
That’s a big reason I’d like to see Al win – at least he’s from the state.
Oh…that’s right…so is Fagg. 4th Generation <Insert impressed whistle sound here>.
Lotta good it’s done him against Maryland Matt.
But again, this is a battle of PAC against PAC…or more rightly, one rich-billionaire-out-of-state-asshole against another for control of yet another old-time (and perhaps new again!) American colony.
Arnon Gutfeld would be proud.
#5 A Few Local Races
The HD 94 race between Dudik and Bell interests me, though I think we all know Dudik would take this one easily, perhaps paving the way for an AG run in 2020.
SD 49 of course has my attention, as I’m running in it.
There’s probably a few more, but I won’t get into those until Tuesday.
We all know the legislature will go GOP again in 2019, and we all know Bullock is too busy with his presidential ambitions to give a damn.
One thing we’ve always head in the Treasure State is time.
The history books are rife with examples of Montanans waiting out the winter, often twiddling their thumbs and wishing they didn’t have to read the same book again for the 10th time.
We’re good at waiting.
Eventually we’ll get rid of these clowns (both D and R) and their PAC money. Our current period will be a dark stain on Montana’s history…but we’ve had a lot of those before.
Future Montanans will call the people currently running for office – and those holding office – the new copper kings.
Just follow the money – it’s all there.
Thankfully, one day things will improve, and our country will care about us again.
But we’re currently deep in the winter, and about all we can do is wait.
Here in the Treasure State, though, we always know that spring will come, and then the glorious summer.
We’ve been there before, and we’ll be there again…just as we’re currently at the bottom of the barrel, in the depth of the cycles, with corruption and angst all around us.
Remember, the only constant is change.
So until Tuesday…stay vigilant.