The race to fill the vacant House seat in Montana’s at-large Congressional District will be decided on May 25. The Treasure State was left without their lone congressman when then-Rep. Ryan Zinke became Interior Secretary. During their respective state party conventions, the GOP nominated tech businessman Greg Gianforte and Democrats chose folk singer Rob Quist.
If current polls hold steady, this race will be Republican Gianforte’s to lose. The latest Emerson College survey shows the GOP candidate leading Democrat Quist 52 to 37 percent – a 15 point gap. These numbers are similar to a Gravis Marketing poll conducted earlier showing Gianforte leading by 12 points.
National Democrats, emboldened by strong performances in special House elections in Kansas and Georgia, are still investing heavily in the race in hopes of notching a victory. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be dropping $400,000 in mail and television advertisements to boost Quist’s candidacy. This is on top of the $200,000 already invested into the race by Democratic House leadership.
The DCCC does have a few reasons for hope in the Montana race. Despite Trump winning the state just last year, Montana voters also chose to re-elect Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock on that same ballot. Gov. Bullock’s tenure was preceded by two-term Democrat Brian Schweitzer. Simply put, conservative Montana voters don’t have a problem pulling the lever for Democratic candidates.
Besides his lagging poll numbers, Quist has other issues he would have to overcome to mount a successful House bid.
The state’s single congressional seat has been occupied by the GOP since 1997. Former Rep. Zinke won re-election in 2016 by about 15 points – the same percentage lead as Gianforte’s poll numbers now.
Montana voters may have chosen to re-elect a Democrat in 2016, but the Republican contender he faced gave him a run for his money. The GOP challenger only lost by about four percentage points.
That gubernatorial candidate was Greg Gianforte.
With his brand still very fresh in voters’ minds, Gianforte brings with him big name recognition and a campaign operation still hot.
National Republicans certainly believe his campaign is worth investing in. The House Leadership Fund, a GOP-aligned super PAC, is putting another $500,000 into the race. This money will be spent on direct mail advertising and field operations. This latest contribution will make for a total of $2 million spent by House Leadership Fund in its effort to elect Gianforte. They hope to have 50 canvassers knock on 75,000 doors by Election Day.
Liberal darling Bernie Sanders has promised to campaign on behalf of Quist sometime before the May 25 election. The Montana Democrat was a supporter of the Vermont senator during the Democratic primary.
However, there’s only so much a progressive politician from New England can do. Quist has an uphill battle for this House seat.
Campaign Daily Rating: Likely Republican