Recently I came across this gem of a comment:
“So what if montanan dems are a minority? That’s the core of the constituency that is needed to reelect him.”
Lets determine the truth of this statement. Will Montana Democrats determine the outcome of this election? Looking at the last few election years, it’s pretty striking that there are generally in the vicinity of 150.000 to 160,000 votes for whatever Democrat is running against Denny Rehberg. I’d say that’s Tester’s base, the people he can count on. The last time Barack Obama was also on the ballot, Denny got 308,000 votes, give or take. That’s his base – if he were running against Generic Democrat, he could count on that. If Tester is going to close the gap, he’ll have to do it with some combination of energizing people on the left and stealing Denny’s voters. Given that Barack Obama could only get 230,000 votes from Montana, it stands to reason that even if Jon Tester were to energize as many people as Barack Obama, presumably by moving as far left as he has, he would still be 70,000 votes short – even if he didn’t lose anyone in the center.
The other alternative is to take some of the votes that Denny Rehberg is counting on. If he gained his same 70,000 votes (the number he could conceivably gain by moving left to Obama’s position) in this fashion, he would have a fighting chance of defeating Denny Rehberg, because every vote he gains from the center is a vote Rehberg can’t count on. In other words, energizing the base will never get him in nearly the position gaining the support of the center will. We who form Jon Tester’s base may feel like we are very special because supported him first, we were the true fans, but we are a minority, and we will not be deciding this election. All the fawning by liberal true believers is not going to get an ideologically pure progressive in the Senate. It may seem a bit unromantic, but the next six years of legislation (and likely decades of jurisprudence) will be determined by whatever side can win over the undecided centrists while maintaining the pragmatic, perhaps begrudging loyalty of its base.