In trying to nationalize these races — and framing them as macro-commentary on politics in America — we lose sight of the actual lessons they can teach us.
Some of those lessons are simple: to remember, for example, that endorsements are unpredictable variables. But others are more complicated, and frustrate the inclination of both Democrats and Republicans to turn every race into a national statement. The Montana special election won’t be a referendum on Trump. It won’t even necessarily tell us what will happen in the midterms. But it, and Montana politics in general, does offer a master class on something even more important: namely, how to cultivate and actually sway one of the most valuable, and increasingly rare, of political entities — the independent voter.
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