Montana Politics

Coattails? Not for these two.


Traditionally, the candidate at the top of the ticket should boost candidates lower on the ballot. Even if Romney only visited the state once, Rep. Denny Rehberg tried his hardest to link the Montana election to national issues, mentioning Obama at every opportunity and rolling out a last-minute endorsement from Mitt Romney. But neither Rehberg or Rick Hill came close to matching Romney’s success.

Romney’s support represents the votes that a reasonable Republican candidate should have been able to get. But Rehberg fell far short, under-performing Romney by 11 points. . The only two candidates who did worse, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, practically gave away their seats with ridiculous comments on rape. .

Rick Hill’s performance wasn’t much better. Hill underperformed Romney by 8 points, more than any other Republican candidate seeking an open seat. The only candidates who did worse were challenging popular governors in West Virginia, Delaware, and Missouri.

The imbalance might not signal the weakness of the Republican candidates, but instead show exceptionally strong Democratic campaigns. One in eight Romney supporters split their tickets, voting for Jon Tester and Steve Bullock.

Sources: The first chart is from the Washington Post. The second is my own.

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  • Very illuminated graphs, especially the one you made, Tyler. I think it also illuminates not just the strength but the moderation of the Democratic candidates in Montana, and the difference between the GOP here and nationally. The distance between Tester and Obama isn’t just messaging, it’s real policy differences between the two men. That certainly annoys a lot of Montana progressives, but it comes down to who Montanans can get behind and elect.

    Moreover, I don’t know that Rehberg aligning himself with Romney was actually an effective strategy. Certainly the Obama-Tester link was helpful, but Romney won Montana being anti-Obama, not because of his own charisma. Romney wouldn’t have won a Romney-Tester race, and so Rehberg didn’t do himself much good with those ‘Romney-Rehberg’ ads that made him seem like he was taking Ryan’s place as the new Republican Ronald Reagan sidekick.

    On a side note, does it seem the deification of Reagan has progressed so far the Republicans just worship the letter ‘R’ nowadays?

    • I don’t suppose that $500K from unknown sources at the end hurt your guy. Weird, you know, how in politics money just appears, does its work, and we never know who or why. But it does look like strange bedfellows, perhaps LCV and the timber lobby working together for Chainsaw Jon. It looks like corruption to me.

      Remind me of a story: Years ago, during Vietnam, US pilots were dropping napalm on people, but they were able to run to water and it would wash off. Dow Chemical’s crack scientists came up with napalm that was not water-soluble, and so was far more effective. Technicians at work!

      All of this analysis of voting behavior post-election reminds me of that. In the coming months, Tester is going after our roadless lands, Obama will pursue the Neocon agenda, tax cuts will stay in place for the wealthy, Democrats will reassert the filibuster rule, social programs will be attacked, civil liberties assaulted, and you, the technicians and academics, the political scientists, will make sure it all sticks.

      Interesting analysis of voting trends, Mr. Technician.

      • I hope the $500K did make a difference. The election showed a clean sweep against money in politics, electing Tester, Bullock, and approving I-166.

        As a technician: guilty as charged. It’s not naive to think that our government’s decisions should be illuminated with the best facts. I even go to school for that.

          • Says the self-aware environmentalist typing about how horrified he is that we’re exporting coal to China…on his iPad.

            Sorry Mark, you took what was a professional analysis of what happened in November, and you decided to make it personal. Tyler, since he actually knows what he’s talking about, isn’t going to stoop to your level. But your continual jabbering about self awareness when you don’t stop to question your own lifestyle, or about the inefficacy of voting when your contribution to societal change seems to consist entirely of said jabbering, is just too easy a target. You’re welcome to have the last word, be confident that I’ll ignore it. Tyler’s post deserves better than more of our bickering.

            • Oh, the old “leaving the room” parting shot, classic. What a lame ass!

              Montana a Democrats were losing an election, and so called in $500K from some rich dudes and bought some ads to manipulate stupid libertarians, and got your guy elected, Baucus style.

              You … Are … Corrupt. your party makes me sick.

              I highlighted at POM all of TE’s comments about the $500K that went to Hill yesterday just to point out your amazing hypocrisy.

              Voters are stupid. We know that, Tyler and I. he’s doing his job, tell us how they were manipulated by corrupt leaders, like Tester.
              I would never stoop to your level. You’re ripe. Your website should be called “Don’t go in there for a while.”

    • PW, you’re spot on about the moderation of the Montana Democrats, but I don’t see the same divide on the Republican side. The libertarian votes that Rehberg lost are a sign of Denny highlighting national priorities over those of the state. You could put any other member of the Tea Party caucus in Rehberg’s place and end up with the same positions.

  • But who are the Romney voters and the Tester/Bullock voters? Why would someone vote for Romney and Tester or Bullock? I think race needs to be a part of the analysis, too. What policy differences are so significant between Obama and Tester/Bullock that voters would split the votes? Or rather, the differences between Romney and Tester/Bullock are so large that voting for both seems wildly inconsistent. What can MT Dems do to bridge that gap for the next Democratic President?

    • Ryan –

      You’re looking at about 36,000 voters. My guess would be that of those, Keystone XL, gun rights, and immigration swayed the majority of those. In each case, Tester agreed with the majority of Montanans and his own campaign promises.

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Tyler Evilsizer

Raised in Helena, Tyler's particularly passionate about the environment, transparency, and wonky budget policy. The views expressed are his own.

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