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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Native Americans in Montana

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

Native Americans are always an important voting bloc in Montana, where they make up 6.5 percent of the population, per U.S. Census data. But this November, their involvement could potentially impact the entire nation.

Control of the Senate may hang on the outcome of the Montana Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is up for reelection in this reliably red state, likely facing off against Republican Tim Sheehy, whom former President Donald Trump has endorsed. Trump won Montana by nearly 17 percentage points in 2020, and Tester won by 3.5 percentage points — or nearly 18,000 votes — in 2018. Montana’s tribes comprise about five percent of the voting bloc, nearly twice the margin by which Tester won his last race.

Native voters are “hugely important to the Democratic base,” says Jim Messina, an Obama White House alum and former adviser to Tester with deep political roots in Montana. Tester ousted Republican Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006 in part by siphoning off some of Burns’ support among Native Americans. “Tester was able to cut into that bloc and really move them towards him,” Messina says.
But turnout could be a problem.
To rectify this, Montana Democrats are rolling out their largest-ever Native voting initiative, planning to invest more than $1 million over the next six months. That’s nearly double the $600,000 they had to target Native voters during the 2018 campaign. (The Montana GOP did not respond to multiple requests for an interview about their efforts to woo tribal voters.)

As a longtime advocate of Native Americans in politics, Blackfeet tribal member Michael DesRosier is a true believer in the power of the indigenous vote.“We have the numbers,” the former Glacier County commissioner says as he sits in the county office, one brown cowboy boot-clad foot propped up on the other knee. “That’s the quandary here: getting them out to vote.”