Here in Missoula County in 2014, nearly 24,000 absentee ballots were sent out for the primary.
Elections officials got back nearly 17,000, or about 70%.
Many times those absentee ballots are sent in weeks before the primary. So really, you have to make that voter contact now.
You can find those Montana absentee voting numbers on the Secretary of State’s page.
Why they don’t have a spreadsheet with each year’s state totals on one page is beyond me.
Now, it’s important to remember that Missoula County has about 84,000 registered voters.
My district, House District 99, has about a tenth of that.
I can find Montana legislative district maps and narrow in on the exact streets I need to walk down.
Here’s what HD 99 looks like:
It’s that light-green one there in the middle. When I click on it I get information about the people living there. For instance:
- There were 9,845 people living in Missoula’s HD 99 in 2010.
- There are 3,869 total households in this district.
- 78% of the HD 99 population is over the age of 18.
- 17% of the population is over the age of 62.
- There are 202 Indian voters and 37 black voters.
- 2,806 people in this district own their home, another 1,129 rent.
So that information is great, but does it help me?
Not really. I’m not targeting that highly nor am I doing mailings. What I am doing is pulling up the maps to find good spots for my yard signs.
Alas, I can’t do that effectively with the legislative map. I can compare that map to Google Maps, however. Take a look:
The nice thing about the Google Maps interface is that I can zoom in on an actual street corner to see what things look like.
Here, let’s take a gander at the area around 39th Street:
That’s an image of the intersection of 39th Street and Dore Lane.
Notice that bushy spot on the left by the light post. Wouldn’t that make a great spot for a sign?
It’s a heavy-traffic area and a sign right there would be seen by thousands of people each day.
So…who lives in that house?
I have no idea but I’ll be able to tell you if they’re a Dem or Republican here real soon.
Yep, I’ll go to that house, knock on the door, introduce myself, and hand them my flyer.
I’ll tell them I’m running for the legislature and that I’d love to put a sign on their back corner.
Maybe they’ll say yes, maybe they’ll say no.
I won’t know until I knock on that door and find out.
Remember, the Montana Democratic Party won’t allow me to use their Voter Access Network. They refuse to return my emails or my phone calls.
I love pointing this out, and far from it hindering me, I think it’ll help (it also makes them look incredibly stupid).
I’ve found a much more viable strategy than the one I used last time.
I’ll use my campaign signs, which are being printed now, and I’ll use a simple 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper that I print out that has information about me and my website.
I’ll target areas just like I targeted the house above, by using Google Maps and by driving around to find possible spots.
Maybe I’ll win that way, maybe I’ll lose.
Whatever the outcome, you can’t say I didn’t try.