The respite does give us time to better analyze at least one aspect of Republican Greg Gianforte’s 50-44% victory over Democrat Rob Quist in last Thursday’s special congressional election, however.
The most stunning statistic coming from the special election is the voter participation factor. The final count gives Gianforte a 22,990 vote win, but this comes from a voter universe of 377,465 voters, an all-time record high for a special congressional election. To put this latter number in perspective, it is 9,502 more than the number of people who participated in the last Montana mid-term election, an extraordinary total. The 2016 presidential year congressional turnout exceeded 507,000 voters.
To put this in current context, the California special jungle primary election held April 4th in Los Angeles drew only 42,308 voters. The recently completed South Carolina special primary contest featured 57,979 ballots. In the Kansas special in the Wichita anchored district, the turnout total was 122,594, and in the most talked about GA-6 election in the northern Atlanta suburbs, the voter participation factor exceeded most expectations by reaching an impressive 192,569.
Keep in mind, however, that the Montana at-large seat is the largest congressional district in the country, encompassing a total population of more than 1.042 million people. This yields a voter registration pool of almost 700,000, thus partially accounting for the exceedingly large special election turnout. But, for a special election to exceed the previous mid-term vote total is highly unusual to say the least. This underscores an energized electorate, not just from the Democratic perspective that generates most of the media attention, but from base Republican and business sector voters, as well.