We can rest.
But let’s do a little rehashing and explaining and some good ol’ shootin’ the shit first.
It’s a lot better than crying into our beer.
Around 9:30 PM it was Gianforte ahead by 5%, or about 10,000 votes.
He was up in Yellowstone County by 20%.
There’s no recovering from that.
Things got real quiet on #mtpol after that, which is where most of the political news in Montana happens first.
Around 10 PM Gianforte was up by 20,000 votes and people were wondering where he’d make that up.
And then that was it.
Some more counties, some more numbers, but the trends remained the same.
At 10:33 PM the Associated Press called the race for Gianforte. The Flathead Beacon followed quickly thereafter, and other sites soon followed.
So that was it.
Here’s how I have the most populous counties coming in:
So Gianforte won it.
I don’t know if that was a surprise to many, though many acted like Quist could win right down to the end.
I can’t fault them too much – after the body-slamming incident, the assault charge, and the social media and national news uproar, it seemed like Quist might win.
But he didn’t.
Rob Quist now joins a long line of failed candidates:
- 2016: Denise Juneau, 41%
- 2014: John Lewis, 40%
- 2012: Kim Gillan, 43%
- 2010: Dennis McDonald, 34%
- 2008: John Driscoll, 32%
- 2006: Monica Lindeen, 39%
- 2004: Tracy Valazquez, 33%
- 2002: Steve Kelly, 33%
- 2000: Nancy Keenan, 47%
- 1998: Dusty Deschamps, 44%
- 1996: Bill Yellowtail, 43%
You have to go back to 1994 for the last time a Democrat won this seat, Pat Williams with 49% of the vote against Republican Cy Janison’s 42% and Independent Steve Kelly’s 9%.
That’s a long time.
Three days before the election a Gravitas poll came out showing Gianforte ahead by 14%, with a sample size of 818 people.
Democrats and Republicans both seemed to act as though their internal polling said otherwise, however.
Lots of last-minute campaign stops, lots of phone calls and door knocking and especially social media ‘outreach.’
When it comes to the latter, much of it was just out-of-staters assaulting us with spam.
And let’s not forget the constant deluge of radio and TV ads.
Over $17 million was spent on this election, and if you had a TV you damn-well knew it.
For many Montana voters, the end of the race couldn’t come quickly enough.
On Wednesday, Jackie Browne over at Western Word called the race.
Those numbers were similar to the ones I’d been talking about for nearly two weeks.
Here are both predictions:
We also had “old political hand” Joe Lamson give us a prediction of Quist 49%, Gianforte 48%, and Wicks 3%...if turnout on Thursday remained low.
I’ve never heard of Joe Lamson, myself, but maybe that’s just me.
Mainly, if you were living in the state, had been following politics for some time, and paid close attention to this race and its spending, then you knew Quist was done just weeks after he got the nomination.
I said as much at the end of March.
There was just too much negative news about him.
Yeah, Gianforte has his negatives too, but we’d heard all those before, endlessly, for months and months during the gubernatorial race last year.
Time and a defeat had taken the sting out of Gianforte.
Quist, however, remained an untested unknown…and one that proved to have more baggage than any of us could have imagined.
Remember, I pushed hard for Quist on this site after Schweitzer came out and endorsed him.
Another big factor was Quist calling me up on the phone in mid-January to talk about his chances.
This was all back before March 5, when he got the nomination. I’m not sure if that’s the day the Hilltop Public Solutions crowd that effectively controls the Montana Democratic Party got its hooks into him, but it happened nonetheless.
That was really the death-knell.
At that point the Quist campaign became nothing more than an opportunity to train Tester ’18 staffers while ensuring they had quite the little nest egg built up to see them through the summer and into the full-time Election 2018 cycle come fall.
Don’t forget, Quist’s staffers were set to make $68,000 by the end of the campaign according to the FEC reports we dug into in April…and that was before they added even more staff – and boosted the pay of current staff – as we saw in the May FEC reports.
And then there was the out-of-state spending, which dwarfed the in-state spending…the latter mainly comprised of gas, meals, and lodging, as well as a few office supplies and other miscellaneous things.
That in no way compares to the mega-bucks that were spent in places like D.C., California, and Georgia for advertising, website work, social media campaigns, and all the rest of it that made our lives a living hell for the past couple of weeks.
Remember, $17 million was spent in this race, or about $200,000 a day.
We looked at the Super PAC money, too. Hardly any of that spending benefited Montana businesses or families.
To me, that’s not how you should run a campaign.
I’d have liked to see Quist spend more money with in-state firms…many of which we looked-up in a post I did on winning a statewide campaign.
We need to realize that election cycles are near-constant, and that the money they toss about is an economic stimulus to our state…or should be.
I would have liked to see Quist use fewer out-of-state staffers and more native Montanans, people that will stay here and use the experience they gained on this campaign to help future campaigns.
And when I say ‘future campaigns’ I mean those in the state, not in other states, which is where many of these non-native staffers will eventually end up.
It really is a game of musical chairs when it comes to professional Democratic staffers, with them moving from this state to that state based on what their D.C. handlers say.
This in no way benefits Montana or Montana campaigns.
If it did, how come Rob Quist lost tonight?
So where to from here?
I’m sure there will be lots of silence and recriminating looks for a few days, then the blame game can begin.
Perhaps we’ll even start to speculate on who’ll run against Gianforte in 2018.
- My money’s on Curtis, but now that Gianforte’s ‘so vulnerable’ in Democrats’ eyes, maybe they’ll try to throw a safer, establishment type at him, one that’ll play the same D.C.-money game that Quist fell into.
- I see Zeno Baucus making a serious challenge in 2018, with the talk this year just a testing of the waters.
- Perhaps Kelly McCarthy will be back, or even Dirk Adams. I don’t think Dan West can do it an in open primary.
Anyways, plenty of time to speculate on this later.
We all know that the main impetus will be on getting Tester reelected in ’18 anyways, so that’s where the focus (and the money) will be at.
Beating Gianforte will be second fiddle, and I really do think that by that point Gianforte will be a national star.
Yeah, because he roughed-up a reporter.
Many will eat that up. He could become one of the most powerful members of the House.
Or one of the most ineffective…we’ll see.
Effectiveness is quite subjective. If you’re making tax loopholes for the rich and looking after the wellbeing of corporations, well, that’s the kind of ‘effectiveness’ that’s rewarded with campaign cash…which Gianforte doesn’t really need anyways.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Montana Republican Party dances around the assault issue. Remember, Gianforte’s opponent last June nabbed 24% of the GOP primary vote.
Many have already said that Gianforte’s long-term career is done, and that may be so. I don’t see him going against Tester or for the governor’s office anymore.
And what about Quist?
Well, I hope he runs for the legislature. We could use a good Democrat up that way.
Hell, Montana could use good Democrats everywhere!
The Party is in serious trouble, something that Logicosity pointed out today.
I hope you’ll give that post a look, and think a lot about what we can do to fix this terrible losing streak.
Dems haven’t won this seat in 23 years.
It’s time to figure out a new strategy.