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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Montana and the Senate

Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections. 

Nate Moore at The Liberal Patriot:
Republicans are clear favorites to win the U.S. Senate in November. Practically guaranteed to flip Joe Manchin’s West Virginia seat, the GOP is turning west to Montana for their majority-making win. Despite a formidable Democratic incumbent in Jon Tester, Montana was a Trump +16 state four years ago and is the party’s best bet for that crucial 51st seat.

First, let’s look at the fundamentals. As recently as 2012, the Senate was littered with red-state Democrats. That year, Democrats won in Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, and West Virginia—all with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Twelve years later, these electoral over performers are a dying breed. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly all lost in 2018, despite a blue wave. Red-state hopefuls in 2016—like Evan Bayh and Jason Kander—came up short, dragged down by the top of the ticket.

In 2020, Senate Democrats poured hundreds of millions into South Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa—only for star recruits to run even with Biden. This ever-increasing alignment between presidential and down-ballot results highlights just how steep a climb Tester faces this cycle.

Tester’s 2012 plurality win, while impressive, is no sure sign that he will again triumph in a presidential year. The 2020 Montana Senate race offers more recent evidence: popular two-term Governor Steve Bullock lost to Republican Steve Daines by double digits. Bullock did outrun Biden, but not by nearly enough.