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Battle for the Big Sky
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Battle for the Big Sky
Representation and the Politics of Place in the Race for the US Senate



© 2015 | 280 pages | CQ Press
Battle for the Big Sky delves into one of the few competitive races of the 2012 election: the US Senate campaign in Montana. Author David C.W. Parker was granted exceptional access by both candidates over the 21 months preceding the election, allowing him to tell the story of the race in rare and fascinating detail, while also exploring the impact of Citizens United and so-called "dark money" on the campaign. The Montana setting offers readers a view into the rising political influence of the West, the importance of "place" in politics, and the impact of congressional styles and constituent relationships on campaigns and elections. Parker skillfully weaves political analysis into his narrative and places the race in the broader context of congressional elections and the research literature.
 
Chapter 1: What Happened in Montana Won’t Stay in Montana
Do Campaigns Matter? Montana Votes ‘Yes’  
The Rise of the West  
Building Constituent Connections  
A Ringside Seat  
 
Chapter 2: Montana: The Last, Best Place?
Place-Based Connections  
“One of Us”  
Montana: The Place  
Montana and the Feds: A Love-Hate Relationship  
Montana: The People  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 3: Jon Tester’s Creating a Buzz
Prepolitical Careers and Representational Style  
The Dirt Farmer from Big Sandy  
Jon Tester Goes to Helena  
Going Belly to Belly with Senator Burns  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 4: Denny Rehberg: A Man in a Hurry
The Billings Rancher  
Forget Me Not: Denny the Insurgent  
Denny and Max  
Montana’s Lone Congressman  
Two Early Political Careers, Two Different Paths  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 5: Representational Style: How Congressman Rehberg and Senator Tester Govern
Home Styles in the Big Sky  
Washington Work  
Explaining Washington Work to Constituents  
Home Styles and Town Halls  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 6: Campaigning in a Citizens United World: The Early Days of the Race
Priming and Framing  
Farmer Jon or Barack Tester; Rancher Denny or Irresponsible Dennis?  
Citizens United: More Money, Less Control  
The Pledge That Wasn’t  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 7: What Voters Know, How They Decide, and When Campaigns Matter
How Individuals Make Voting Decisions in Congressional Elections  
Montana: Independent Voters Facing a Rich Information Environment  
Representational Relationships: What Did Montanans Know and When Did They Know it?  
Talking Politics: The Bozeman Focus Groups  
Reinforcing an Information Advantage  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 8: The Message Matters: The Politics of Personality and Issues
Do Campaigns Matter? What Political Science Says  
Rehberg’s Decision  
Information Advantages and Voter Learning: How Personality Trumped Issues and Resources  
The Final Stretch  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 9: The End Game
How the Campaign Mattered  
The Democratic Brand  
It’s the Economy, Stupid?  
“Responsible” Decision Making: The Politics of Representational Style  
Dan Cox: Spoiler?  
The Democratic Ground Game  
A Final Look  
Conclusion  
 
Chapter 10: Lessons Learned
Future Directions  
Conclusion  
Key features

KEY FEATURES:

  • Offers a unique, detailed and balanced case study of one of the only competitive 2012 US Senate races
  • Author David C.W. Parker’s experience and connections in Montana politics allow for exceptional access and detail
  • Addresses the importance of home style and Washington work, particularly in a state with a smaller population
  • Discusses the impact of the Citizens United decision and the phenomenon of “dark money”
  • Explains how the politics of place has consequences for representational styles

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2


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