See 2012 Senate Elections - Who's Winning, Who's Losing for an overview of all 33 US Senate races, on a state-by-state basis.
The Incumbent US Senator
Sen. Jon Tester was part of the Democrat-heavy Senate class of 2006 swept into office in the unpopular wake of the Bush-Cheney presidency and the flailing Iraq War. Democrat Tester scored an extremely narrow victory over three-term Republican incumbent Conrad Burns.
Tester, a moderate Democrat and longtime family farmer, served in the Montana state Senate for four terms, the last as residing officer of the Montana Senate. In 1998, Tester's anger by huge energy rate hikes inspired him to first run for elective office. (See Profile of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana for more.)
In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Tester is part of the prestigious Appropriations, Banking, and Homeland Security committees.
Incumbent Sen. Tester is running for reelection in 2012.
Montana's 2012 Senate Race
In November, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester will be opposed by six-term Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg. Rep. Rehberg, Montana's sole House of Representatives member, served as Montana Lieutenant Governor from 1991 to 1997, and in the Montana legislature from 1985 to 1991.
Rehberg, a staunch conservative who particularly opposes gay marriage and gay rights, is ranked as the 14th richest member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Who Will Win?
President Obama's unpopularity in Montana... the only state with 0% African-Americans, per the 2010 Census... will likely have a negative effect on Sen. Tester's reelection efforts.
Factors in the Big Sky state that should favor Democrat Tester include a significant labor union presence (almost 16% of all workers), and a high level of Montana residents, 14.8%, living below the poverty line.
Republicans have targeted this race as a "must win" in order to regain control of the U.S. Senate, and plan to pour millions of dollars into Rep. Rehberg's campaign effort.
RealClearPolitics.com rates Montana's 2012 U.S. Senate election as a "Toss-Up."
Recent Election Results
Montana's two U.S. senators serving in the 112th Congress (2011 to 2012) are:
Governor Brian Schweitzer is a Democrat, while Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger is Republican.
In the last four presidential elections, Montana voted as follows:
- 2008 - 50% for Republican McCain, 47% for Democrat Obama
- 2004 - 59% for Republican Bush, 39% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 58% for Republican Bush, 33% for Democrat Gore, 9% for Other
- 1996 - 44% for Republican Dole, 41% for Democrat Clinton, 15% for Other
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - Montana's unemployment rate of 7.5% was well below the national average, and ranked 34th among all states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - Montana's home foreclosure rate of 1 in every 1576 homes was below the national average, and ranked 39th among all states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 14.8% of Montana residents live below the poverty line, ranking 12th among all states.
Labor Union Membership - 61,000 workers in Montana, representing 15.7% employees in the state, belong to labor unions.
Senior Citizen Population - Residents 65 years old and over comprise 14.8% of Montana's population, which ranks 6th among all states.
Women as a Percentage of Montana's Population - Women comprise only 49.8% of all Montana residents, which ranks 45th among all states.
Hispanic Population - Only 2.9% of Montana residents are of Hispanic heritage, ranking 43rd among all states.
African-American Population - Per the 2010 Census, less than 1% of Montana's population is African-American.