Westerners grow weary of Republican rule

Interesting article in today’s Gazette: “Montanans like state’s direction, not country’s.” It’s an analysis of the recent poll that shows Sen. Burns’ approval numbers are plummeting while Gov. Schweitzer’s numbers are rising. (Funny how some of these newspaper articles are like blog posts, aren’t they?)

When it comes to judging the direction of our nation, a majority of Montanans think we're on the "wrong track," according to a Gazette State Poll.

But when the same question is asked about the direction of the state, the answer is quite the opposite: 72 percent of those surveyed said Montana is on the "right track."

Governor Schweitzer’s approval ratings are nearly at 70% — while Conrad Burns’ sinks to below 40%.

There’s been a lot of controversy lately about how the Democratic national party has been funding grassroots organizations across the States. (Democratic strategist, Wayne Begala, said of Howard Dean’s spending on grassroots organization, “What he has spent it on, apparently, is just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose.”)

But it seems to be paying off, as evidenced by this Gazette report, and a report from Colorado over its 6th Congressional District – paleo-conservative Tom Tancredo’s seat – which cites similar poll numbers as those in Montana.

When asked the "do you think we are moving in the right direction" question, only 50% thought Colorado was and that number dropped to 29% when talking about the US generally. The rest were divided between 'wrong direction', 'mixed', and 'don't know', with 55% opting for saying the US is moving in the wrong direction. 

If anything, Coloradans think the country is worse off than Montanans. Only 29% of Coloradans thought the country is in the right track as compared to 34% of Montanans. While 50% of Coloradans thought the state was moving in the right direction, 72% of Montanans said the same thing. Seventy-two percent!

What’s the difference between the two states? Montana has a Democratic Governor and a Democratic-majority in the legislature. Colorado has a Republican Governor and a Republican-majority in the legislature.

It seems that Dean's strategy is beginning to affect the political climate at the state level. Democrats are fielding superior candidates, and enough money is floating around to make viable challenges against vulnerable seats. Even seats that are "traditionally" Republican.

There are other things, too, of course. Colorado’s TABOR – the spending-cap bill – is generally seen as a disaster for the state, so much so that Colorado citizens passed Referendum C last year, allowing some easing of the spending cap. Maybe there’s still resentment against conservative fiscal groups for TABOR. Maybe people tend to get weary of the majority party.

Or maybe it’s just that Democrats govern better. That sounds like a radical and partisan statement – maybe it is. On the other hand, who here believes that the Bush administration has handled its responsibilities better than Clinton’s? No hands?

And after all, many conservative fiscal extremists – like Grover Norquist and his ilk – want to destroy government, or at the very least its role in providing services for the people. And many conservative social extremists – like Bill Napoli and his ilk – want to limit civil liberties in favor of nebulous moral experiments.

Maybe six years of majority rule has weakened the Republican Party. Maybe somewhere along the line the extremists hijacked the conservative movement. Whatever happened, it seems like plenty of voters are growing increasingly turned off by their incompetent and nut-job representatives…

Update: Oops! I was wrong about Colorado's legislature. Apparently it is already controlled by Democrats and has been since 2004. (Hat tip to commentor, Matthew Rasenick.) Still the Governor is a Republican, and the legislature has polled well with state residents…


  1. Matthew Rasenick

    Hate to quibble, because I enjoyed reading the post and I don’t disagree with your premise, but Colorado’s legislature has been under Democratic control since the 2004 elections, like Montana’s. They haven’t been fortunate enough to have a great governor like you have, but the Dem-controlled lege has, if I’m not mistaken, gotten good marks from polls there.

  2. Thanks for the correciton. The post has been updated…

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