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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Montana Senate Election Night Results

Before I get into my final thoughts on the race, here are some handy websites for election results:

Yesterday, the Hotline's Chuck Todd wondered:

Does a Tester victory mark the first true netroots-created win? We know there are other races where the Democratic netroots played a major factor, but a Tester victory would give even more legitimacy to the lefty blogosphere's political power.

I think the fact this race is even competitive shows the power of using the internet to communicate and organize instead of cutting a deal with the devil DLC. Yes, the blogs have been all over this race, I think Kos was the first blogger to float Tester's name (12/16/2004), Left in the West the same day and Swing State Project began covering Tester on 12/31/2004 (Tester didn't announce until May 25, 2005).

If you buy into the traditional thinking that money=ads=votes then John Morrison should be winning 2:1 and nobody should even be following this race. But in the post-broadcast era, the content is as important as the container and Tester has a far better message even if Morrison has a staggering ad buy.

This race has been about distributed communication, from the letters to the editor (that Tester has owned) to the blogosphere. Tester's early outreach to the blogs (timeline here) allowed him a significant communication infrastructure. When the Morrison scandal broke, the blogs were there for Tester.

Since then, the Montana blogosphere has covered each event in Tester's surge, ratcheting up the momentum. And today, Tester is a contender.

I don't know whether Tester will win or lose, but democracy has won. A dry dirt farmer from the middle of nowhere is running neck and neck with a millionaire heir to a political dynasty with DLC backing.

Thank you to everyone who contributed, signed up for Tester emails, recommended Montana diaries, and added to the conversation. The rules are changing and you helped make that so.

And I'm significantly encouraged by the latest post on Left in the West:

Twenty calls in and I can't find anyone voting against us. A friend of mine running another phone bank across town calls, excited. He's talked to twenty people. He's got 19 Tester supporters and one person voting for Morrison.

The numbers start piling up. By the end of the night, our phone bank has talked to 150 live ones and left hundreds more messages. Tester supporters outnumber Morrison supporters 4-to-1. If you give Tester the "undecided" voters who have said they lean our way and give Morrison the rest of the undecided voters, we're up 5-to-2. The margins are unreal. And our people are excited.

We call it a night at 8:45. I talk to a friend on the other side of the state. His calls are going the same way, overwhelmingly favoring Tester.

I hear from someone who knows a Morrison volunteer. Her list in Helena struck out. People are even telling the Morrison campaign that they are voting for Tester. [...]

Honestly, this is my third cycle in Montana politics. I've made a lot of calls over the years. I've never literally felt like I was witnessing the ground shift under my feet the way it has felt here in recent weeks.

One week ago, calling on the same batch of lists we called on last night, our support-to-oppose ratio was 1:1 or maybe 3:2. Every night it has improved. We're now talking close to 5:1.

It's been incredible. To all of you who contributed -- thanks so much for keeping us competitive. Last week's last minute contributions (much of it online) allowed the campaign to add a mail piece to its plan. The people we talk to on the phones are seeing our TV ads enough to talk to us about them with familiarity.
No matter where I go in the country, when I mention I'm a Montana people ask if I know so-and-so (sometimes I do). It seems like everyone knows somebody in Montana. If you do, give them a call or shoot them an email and ask them to support Jon Tester. We've already won a moral victory, now let's finish the job and chalk up a win!

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