Mountain West Dems Win Big In Primaries, But Is A 'Blue Wave' Coming This November?

Aug 8, 2018

Even in traditionally Republican strongholds, Democrats are doing really well in primaries across the Mountain West.

But high voter turnout in primaries doesn’t necessarily indicate a blue wave will sweep across the Rocky Mountains this November.

“I don’t think that’s a terribly exciting, determinable factor of what’s going to happen in the fall,” David Parker, a political science professor at Montana State University, said.

According to Parker, primaries only show party enthusiasm. Republicans in Montana, for example, often have higher base turnout in the primaries but then they sometimes lose in the general election.

Parker said special elections, presidential approval ratings, fundraising, and consumer confidence are all better indicators of what will actual happen this November.

And he says many of those indicators bode well for Democrats.

For example, important suburban voters are leaning more and more blue, while some traditionally Republican rural voters have been put off by President Trump’s trade wars.

“We’ve seen farm prices falling dramatically,” Parker said. “If they feel that they’re pinching their paychecks or they feel that they’re not able to sell their product and it’s at a lower price, they’re going to generally take that out on the president’s party.”

Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester is looking more and more likely to win this November. He’s faced the ire of Trump in recent months.

The highest ranking Republican woman in the U.S. House, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, is facing a tight race in eastern Washington.   

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.