Last week Montana election officials tallied ballots in the June 2 primary. The fields are now set for the general election, and voters are already getting a taste of the nominees’ strategies as they march toward November.

This year’s primary election was notable for being the first in Montana history to be conducted entirely by mail-in ballot — a safety precaution in light of COVID-19. The all-mail balloting set a new state record for voter engagement in a primary election, with 65% of registered voters casting votes. Republicans may be particularly pleased with the turnout, as some 74,000 more people cast ballots in the GOP primary than voted in Democratic races.

But that’s not to say Republican candidates are a lock in the general election. Montana has a long history of ticket-splitting, with voters often choosing general election candidates from both parties.

This week, Montana Free Press published a series of articles profiling the matchups for U.S. Senate and U.S. House, statewide races for governor and attorney general, and the primary results’ implications for the balance of power in the state Legislature between conservative and more moderate Republicans.

Brought to you by our members

Our independent reporting is paid for in part by more than 900 members who care about Montana nonprofit journalism.

Any amount makes a difference.

MTFP capped off that reporting with a roundtable discussion with reporters Eric Dietrich, Mara Silvers and Alex Sakariassen, with editor-in-chief John S. Adams moderating. The conversation offers insights into how the nominees were able to best their primary challengers, and presents a preview of the general election campaigns to come.

The conversation is featured on the latest installment of the Montana Lowdown podcast, a weekly publication of Montana Free Press.

Alex McKenzie has worked with a diverse array of start-ups and nonprofit organizations. He is a former record producer and music journalist, has additional experience working in agriculture and food security, and previously operated his own dairy business. He lives in southwest Montana. Follow him on Twitter.