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Trump voters carry most would-be MT congressional districts
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Trump voters carry most would-be MT congressional districts

So many ways to draw one line.

There are nine different maps carving Montana into two U.S. House districts, all of which are posted for public comment on the state Districting and Apportionment website. 

Time is running out for public comment on Montana’s new congressional districts. The commission’s Oct. 19 meeting is currently the last scheduled time people can testify on the proposed maps in person or by Zoom, and written comments for that meeting should be in by Oct. 16.

A final map for public comment is expected to the selected Oct. 21, with written comments due by the Oct. 30 commission meeting, which is also expected to the final day of public comment before a congressional map is chosen by the commission.

Not displayed on the website is how each would-be district voted in the 2020 election. As the market saying goes, “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” but that hasn’t stopped the speculation. Several election oddsmakers have taken the time to do show the political leanings of Montana’s proposed districts.

There’s consensus that three of the nine configurations create a western district that’s highly competitive, while all nine maps create eastern districts strongly favoring Republicans.

This is a look at the political lean of each map based on votes cast for president in 2020.

Proposal 1

This map nominated by Republican members of the bipartisan Districting and Apportionment commission creates a western district that broke 55.4% for Donald Trump in the 2020 The eastern district broke 58.6%.

Republicans on the commission said they liked this map because the districts were compact, with a dividing line that runs north to south with Cascade and Gallatin counties being split in ways that send both Great Falls and Bozeman into the east.

Proposal 2

This map, nominated by Democrats on the commission, creates a western district that almost broke for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Voters in the would-be district gave Biden 47.7% of their vote, with 49.7% voting for Trump and the remaining vote going to third party candidates.

In the east, Trump captured 64.7% of the vote.

Proposal 3

This map, nominated by Republicans members of the Commission, is very similar to Proposal 1. It divides the state north to south, breaking up Cascade and Gallatin counties and sending Bozeman and Great Falls to the east.

Voters in the western district broke for Trump 55.3%. In the east, Trump collected 58.7% of the vote.

Proposal 4

Nominated by Democrats on the commission, this map mostly uses the Rocky Mountains as the dividing line with one exception. Kalispell is part of the eastern district.

Voters in this western district went 50.1% for Trump in 2020 and 47.3% for Biden, with the difference going to third party candidates.

The eastern district threw 64.7% of its presidential vote to Trump in 2020. In this map, Bozeman and Gallatin County go to the west, while Great Falls and Cascade County go to the east.

Proposal 5

Republicans on the commission nominated this map, which includes Bozeman and Great Falls in the east with Billings, but reaches east along the Hi-Line to draw Rocky Boy's Reservation and much of the Havre area into the west.

Trump took 54.9% of the vote in this western district. He won 59.1% of the vote in the east.

Proposal 6

This is a map nominated by Democrats, which puts most of the western district in the southwest. In the west, voters give Trump 49.3% of the vote and Biden 48%, with the difference going to third party candidates.

In the east, Trump picks up 65% of the vote to Biden’s 32.6%.

Proposal 7

Similar to proposal 4, this map uses the Rocky Mountains at the dividing line. In this case, all of Gallatin County goes to the east. This is a map nominated by Republicans on the Commission.

Trump wins big in the west district of this map with 55.4% of the vote to Biden’s 42.2%.

In the east, voters cast 58.7% of their vote for Trump and 38.7% for Biden.

Proposal 8

This is the only map that puts part of Billings and all of Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations in the west district. The west district is a long, thin map that stretches from Rosebud County to Lake County, home the Flathead Reservation.

Biden actually wins more of the vote this west district by narrow margins, 48.7% to Trump’s 48.6%

The east still goes strongly for Trump, with the former president picking up 65.7% of the vote to Biden’s 31.9%.

Proposal 9

This map has the most geographically compact western district proposed by Democrats. It puts the Flathead Reservation in the east and in doing so divides Missoula County. The west includes every major must-win city for statewide Democratic candidates.

Still, voters in the west broke for Trump 49.8% to Biden’s 47.5% with third party candidates picking up the difference.

In the east, Trump wins 64.7% of the vote to Biden’s 32.9%.

Written comments may be mailed, emailed, submitted online, or faxed to the commission at: Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission PO Box 201706 Helena, MT 59620-1706

Email: districting@mt.gov

Online Submission Form: https://mtredistricting.gov/contact/ Fax: 406-444-3036

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