In Jon Tester’s narrow re-election to the U.S. Senate, he won the support of seven Montana counties that had voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
Several of the counties that backed Tester this year were not just casual Trump supporters in 2016. The president won a couple by more than the 20 point margin he received statewide, including Lake County.
Republican Albert Olszewski, who represents north Lake County in the state Senate, doesn’t think his party’s loss in the federal race has to do with a waning support for President Trump.
“There’s a power to being an incumbent. And we have a unique open reservation for the Salish Kootenai Tribe there. And they are very firm supporters of Jon Tester.”
Jon Tester’s opponent, Republican Matt Rosendale, pegged his campaign as a reinforcement for the Trump agenda.
Four of the seven counties that voted for Trump in 2016 and voted for Tester this year are adjacent to Native American reservations. In two of those counties, more people voted in this year’s Senate race than in the presidential election.
The seven counties that voted for both Trump and Tester aren’t new to splitting the ticket.
Democratic Governor Steve Bullock won Lewis and Clark, Cascade and Park counties in his reelection bid the same year Trump won their support.
While Tester showed this year that Democrats can still win in Trump country, the win was narrow and he didn’t gain significant new territory for Democrats in Montana.