A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

1 January 2018 — 1932 mst

Will 2018 bring a Throw the Bums Out! election?

Democrats hope so, Republicans fear so, and at least some analysts think so. I think some bums may get thrown out in what’s now known as a wave election, but I don’t think the probability that voters will give a lot of elected bums the heave-ho is as high as many suppose. My caution is based not on polling results but on my observation that Democrats have a preternatural ability, demonstrated vividly in the 2016 Presidential election, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Being on the popular side of issues is necessary, but not sufficient, for winning elections. Political parties must nominate good candidates, and those candidates must run smart, aggressive, campaigns.

Recruiting good candidates is hard, especially in low population districts, such as Montana’s, where the talent pool is small. Some thought to be good candidates turn out to be desultory fundraisers who campaign at the pace of an arthritic snail, and with the enthusiasm of a man facing the gallows. And voters sometimes vote for a local hero of the other party instead of for the candidate whose party best represents their interests (that happened in at least two Montana districts in 2016).

Filing for office in Montana begins at 0800 MST on 11 January. Between then and now, Flathead Memo will look at Montana’s electoral landscape for 2018 and offer some commentary. I also encourage readers to follow Logicosity, Montana’s best political blog on legislative politics.