In Montana, the congressional special election results are in:
Gianforte (R) 50.3%; Quist (D) 44%; and Wicks (Libertarian) 5.7%
After body slamming a Guardian reporter, voters spoke, giving the body slamming Gianforte victory. How could this happen?
First, by the time the body slamming took place, about 50% of Montana voters cast their ballots. Montana has mail-in voting, and a substantial portion of the electorate mailed in their ballots by the time the Gianforte assaulted the Guardian reporter.
Second, voter attitudes were not severely impacted by the election. According to some reports, voters believed the assault was a "made-up story" that never happened. Additionally, there was a voter attitude that most people are involved in a similar incidents, this is just an incident where candidate (under pressure) responded to an overly aggressive reporter shoving a microphone in a candidate’s face.
Third, the election wasn't that close. Yes, margins did close. Yes, the Democrat performed better than expected. However, it is doubtful that the body slam would have changed the election even if it occurred before 50% of district voters cast their ballots.
Fourth, this election is evidence of strong partisanship. Republicans voting Republican, and Democrats, Democrat. Strong partisan beliefs are driving voting attitudes. In this Congressional District, the Republicans simply outnumber the Democrats.
Regardless of the reason, the assault did not impact the election. Even if 50 % of the voters had not voted at the time of the assault, it does not look like the body slamming incident significantly impacted the election at all. It was not a game changer.
For more understanding of this election, consider these comments by voters:
Elaine Moore: Sometimes the media can be very offensive
Lyle Moore: Frankly I think the reporter was way too aggressive. When he was asked to pull his microphone back and his camera, he didn't do it.
Here’s Vaughn Warriner in Kalispell.
Vaughn Warriner: And now the night before the election, what do they do? They bring some outsider in, barges in, causes a scene, and make Gianforte look bad, when it was his fault in the first place.
Nicky Ouellet: When you say they, who do you mean?
Vaughn Warriner: Who do you think. The Democrats.
And here’s James Baker in Bozeman.
James Baker: A lot of reporters get aggressive. And I guess, after the heat of a long campaign, people can lose tempers. But obviously I don’t endorse it, but I think that in some cases it’s understandable even if it isn’t forgivable.
Jeremy Hass, a voter in Missoula, says he thought the “body slam” was a fake news story.
Jeremy Hass: You see the headline and you’re like, seriously? Is that something that can actually happen? Then you read the article, check the source that it’s coming from and it’s like, this is crazy. I would never expect to hear something like that happen, let alone on the day before the election. Montana Public Radio