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The proposed text presents a detailed case study of the US Senate race in Montana in 2012 and is intended for use as a supplement in courses on campaigns and elections, the US Congress, and American Government. This race is of particular interest because it was one of only a few competitive races in 2012 and because of the impact of Citizens United and so-called “dark money” on the campaign. Furthermore, the setting in Montana offers 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. The author, David C.W. Parker, was granted exceptional access by both campaigns over the 21 months preceding the election, allowing him to tell the story of the race in fascinating detail. Throughout the narrative, Parker will weave in political analysis and place the race in the broader context of congressional elections and the research literature.

Montana: The Last, Best Place?
Montana: The last, best place?

To understand politics in Montana and the process of representation, one does not begin with people or politicians. One begins with place, because without place the rest does not—cannot—be made to make sense. How Montanans understand themselves, their representatives, their history, and their relationship to others—including the federal government—begins and ends with place. It is also place that presents Montanans with their greatest challenges and opportunities. To use Richard Fenno's terminology, we must begin with the geographic constituency—not only as a physical space and place, but as a shared idea and experience. To understand Montana and Montanans, we must start with the land known variously as the Treasure State, Big Sky Country, or perhaps the ...

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