Lessons from Montana

We had the chance recently to work the last week of the Montana special election. For anyone following politics, you know that the last 24 hours of that election were a wild ride with the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, being accused by a reporter of assaulting him. In the end, Gianforte won going away.


Well, there was a lot of money spent in Montana on both side of the race, again proving that to win in politics, you have to have money. You simply cannot win without it.

There was also a massive ground game on both sides, but particularly on the Republican side, from party entities like the RNC and the NRCC to outside groups as well. From chasing early voters (Montana is a vote by mail state) to locking down Election Day voters, it was a comprehensive effort. We know because we kept “tripping” over other walking teams in neighborhoods we were in.

As for our part, a team of 40 walkers knocked on almost 37,000 doors through CampaignSidekick over that last week, focusing on Soft Republican and Independent voters. While money is critical to winning in politics, nothing will ever replace the data and information capture through live conversations at the door with a voter.

It is hard work, though. We were doing 8+ hours a day of walking, covering anywhere from 8-12 miles a day on foot. The results from voter ID and GOTV work are extremely rewarding on all fronts, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s not hard work. What other lessons learned did we employ in Montana? Even when we didn’t have live interactions, our teams were leaving literature with handwritten, personal notes for the voters.

Even though we missed the chance to interact with some voters, we wanted them to know 1) we knew who they were and 2) we needed their votes. Politics is personal. People always want to know that you know who they are. It’s a human nature sort of thing. Don’t lose sight of that as you run for office.