I’m not sure if these totals are the final results yet, but it’s the latest I can find:
- Engen: 10,805
- Elder: 5,524
- Knopp: 3,872
- Strandberg: 807
That comes out to 21,008 votes.
Just 21,860 voted in the 2017 general election that put Engen back into office. So for a primary to get that many votes this year is pretty good. Perhaps there was a bit more engagement than we thought.
It’s clear from the tallies that Engen has an incredibly strong chance to win in November.
If we add up the three candidates and compare them to Engen we get this:
- Engen: 10,805
- Others: 10,203
That’s a difference of 602 votes.
So if Elder wants to be mayor, he needs to take every single vote that Knopp and I got, plus get 602 new voters to vote, and hope to hell that no one else votes for Engen.
That’s a tough hill to climb. And now that the primary is over, we’ll see the gloves come off. Engen won’t attack - he’ll have the PACs and super committees and out-of-state groups do that for him.
Knopp is an example of this. A group called Montanans for a Better Missoula ran a lot of ads on the Missoulian for him over the past week. I don’t know who this group is, or who funds them. We’ll see a lot more of these groups pop-up, most aligned with Engen to attack Elder.
Let’s follow the money.
The last time we looked at candidate fundraising was September 3, eleven days before the election.
Today I went and added up the amounts received since then. Here’s what all the candidates raised since they entered the race until last night:
- Engen: $62,527
- Elder: $51,758
- Knopp: $5,845
- Strandberg: $150
In the final 10 days or so of the election, when candidates had to file reports each day they received a new donation, the two front-runners raised a lot of money. Engen took in $17,000 during that time frame compared to the $3,770 that Elder took in.
Engen really caught fire with fundraising in the final week, big time. Elder couldn’t match him at all, not even close. But for the whole of the campaign, Elder has done better than anyone in years, coming within $11,000 of Engen for total fundraising. Engen’s never had an opponent like that before.
Top Dems were feeling a little nervous about Engen’s chances in the final days before the primary. Their favored PAC - the Treasure State PAC - gave two $180 donations. Steve Bullock kicked $100 Engen’s way, Nancy Keenan dropped him $125, Carol Williams gave $100, and Wilmott Collins gave $100. Wow...none of these rich assholes that fed off the Dem’s largesse for years can even give the full amount of $180? That’s cold.
After finding that information I then divided that fundraising number by how many votes each candidate received, to get the cost per vote.
Here’s what the candidates raised in funds for each of their votes:
- Engen: $5.78
- Elder: $9.30
- Knopp: $1.50
- Strandberg: $5.38
Yeah, a little misleading. I didn't spend a dime to get any of my votes, while Engen spent over $50,000 to get his.
Elder’s got some challenges ahead of him, the largest of which might be himself. He’s had disastrous media attention lately, all brought on by his own actions.
I mentioned at a candidate forum that Elder and I both attended that once the primary was over, ‘Things are gonna get bloody.’ And boy, will they ever!
Elder has provided so much fodder for the Dems supporting Engen. And Elder will get no support from the Missoula GOP, not after the disastrous run-in he had with Vondene and Alan Ault. The latter donated $100 to Knopp’s campaign shortly after that incident took place.
Many Republicans that voted for Knopp will swallow their pride and vote for Elder, because they’ll view him as so much better than Engen. And trust me, from what I saw at our one in-person forum, Elder is a lot more conservative than people think. Or maybe he’s just good at telling people what they want to hear in each particular case. I dunno.
But not all. I do know that many Republicans won’t vote for him, and will simply not vote or do a write-in. A few years back, when Engen had no opponent, nearly 600 people cast a write-in vote.
Elder is already trying to make in-roads with Knopp’s voters.
"I thank (Shawn Knopp) for throwing his hat into the ring,” he told the Missoulian late last night or this morning, “and I think Shawn Knopp's supporters showed out and supported him and hopefully we'll get his supporters on board for the general election.”
He’ll probably get some, but not all. Not after his temper tantrum over the signs.
Elder never mentioned me or thanked me for running or mentioned my voters. I guess he’s not interested in them.
I know that many that voted for me will not vote for Elder, because they’ve said as much to my face. I hear this most from women, likely going back to the sexual assault allegation. What I hear most often from women is that, “Elder is a fucking piece of shit!” No, they’ll vote for Engen or not at all.
I also know several people that voted for me that will vote for Engen in November. They’re Democrats, but they like me so gave me a vote in the primary, figuring I wouldn’t win anyways, and they were right.
So Elder’s got some problems to work through, while Engen pretty much just has to keep up the smooth sailing while making no mistakes, something he’s done quite well at this year.
When the filing deadline ended in June, Elder had 3,800 likes on his candidate Facebook page, and about 4,000 people following it.
In the nearly 3 months since then he’s gotten up to 4,091 likes and about 4,250 people following the page. In that time he’s added just 2,091 likes to his page.
If likes were votes, he wouldn’t be catching up to Engen in time for the general. He has a lot of work cut-out for him if he wants to win this thing.
Remember, this is how much Engen has won by in the past:
2009: 11,700 votes
2021: 5,281 (primary win)
I don’t think Jacob Elder has it in him to win. I think Engen’s machine will ramp-up at the same time more bad news about Elder comes out.
After the last few weeks of bad news stories, I’m not excited about voting for Elder in November. Maybe that’ll change, but right now...it’s not looking good for him, or for change in Missoula in general.
The establishment, Engen-favored candidates in each of the ward races came out the clear winners. I don’t think much will happen over the next two months to change that.
Let’s hope I’m wrong.