With more than 608,000 ballots cast and 80% turnout, this year’s election ranked among the most-voted in Montana history. With preliminary results for all 663 of the state’s election precincts reported by the Montana Secretary of State as of Nov. 6, here’s how the vote broke down:

The state as a whole went for Republican candidates up and down the ballot, with voters delivering the Montana GOP the most sweeping victory a single party has received in the state in decades. 

In the race for governor, more than 326,000 Montanans cast ballots for Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, handing him the governor’s office 54% to 42%. President Donald Trump won the state by a 98,000-vote margin, receiving nearly 342,000 votes. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Steve Daines won more than 331,000 votes to earn re-election over a challenge from term-limited Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

Even so, hundreds of thousands of Montanans voted for Bullock and other Democratic candidates, including more than 243,000 who voted for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and more than 249,000 who voted for the Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Cooney.

Up and down the ballot, Democrats won majorities in precincts in and around some of Montana’s urban centers: Missoula, Anaconda, Butte, Whitefish, Helena, Bozeman, Livingston, Red Lodge and parts of Billings. Democrats also came out ahead in rural precincts spanning the unincorporated resort town of Big Sky and tribal communities, winning swaths of the Flathead, Blackfeet, Rocky Boy’s, Fort Belknap, Fort Peck, Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations.

Republicans won pretty much the rest of the state, including the urban core of Kalispell and most of Montana’s rural stretches, with particularly strong showings across eastern Montana. GOP victories in the governor and presidential contests included central Great Falls precincts that have tilted toward Democrats in the past. 

Senate candidate Bullock did win several of those Great Falls precincts, as did Democratic superintendent of public instruction candidate Melissa Romano, making the city’s urban core one of the few places in the state where enough voters split their ballots to push some Democrats to precinct-level wins.

How the vote broke down in Great Falls, one of the few parts of the state where enough 2020 voters split their ballots to send some Republicans and some Democrats to precinct-level victories.

Bullock and Cooney also picked up enough votes to win a single precinct in central Hamilton — by just 6 votes in Cooney’s case, according to uncertified vote counts. The rest of Ravalli County, where Hamilton is the county seat, voted red by wide margins.

See anything else interesting in these figures? Have a question about this year’s election results that might be worth follow-up reporting? Tell us on social media or contact reporter Eric Dietrich at edietrich@montanafreepress.org.

Note: The preliminary vote count data used for this story has at least one error, a precinct in Wheatland County where 0 votes were reported for Gianforte (the governor-elect actually won 290 votes there, according to the county election administrator). This story will be updated once certified precinct-level election results are reported by the Montana Secretary of State.

Eric Dietrich

Eric Dietrich

Eric Dietrich is a journalist and data designer and the founder of the Long Streets economic reporting project. He has worked for the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network. Contact Eric at edietrich@montanafreepress.org and follow him on Twitter.