Are you ready to vote strategically?

by Dr. Ed Berry

exb170The 2014 Republican primary for US Congress calls for strategic voting.

Five Republican candidates are seeking the US Congress seat left open by Congressman Steve Daines who has set his sights on the US Senate.

Of these five candidates, only two can win this primary, and two others will draw votes from the more conservative of the two candidates who can win, thereby helping the more liberal candidate win.

Wise conservative voters will consider a strategy to nominate the more conservative, or to them the most desirable, candidate among the two who can win the primary election.

Unwise conservatives will waste their votes on candidates who cannot win the primary because these candidates do not have substantial statewide name recognition and therefore little support from the Republican mainstream voters.

Here are the results from a recent poll, possibly private, given to me:

  • Ryan Zinke: 24%
  • Corey Stapleton: 23%
  • Matt Rosendale: 10%
  • Elsie Arntzen: 5%
  • Drew Turiano: 1%

Since these percentages add up to 63%, we assume 37% of the poll respondents were undecided.

Given the following:

  • It is now May 9.
  • The election is on June 5.
  • Absentee ballots have already been delivered and people are voting.
  • The Zinke and Stapleton campaigns are much better organized than the Rosendale and Arntzen campaigns.

There is zero probability that either Rosendale or Arntzen can overtake with Zinke or Stapleton.

The only question that will be resolved when the votes are counted is whether Stapleton or Zinke is the Republican nominee to the US Congress.

All our Republican candidates are good people and, in the final election, I will support the winner of this primary election. However, given we are talking about the primary election, let’s review the candidates.

It is no surprise that Corey Stapleton and Ryan Zinke are tied for first place.

Ryan Zinke has strong, well-funded campaign. He has statewide name recognition from running for Lt Governor in 2012. He has raised more money than any other candidate … but most is from outside Montana which does not translate into support inside Montana. But in politics, money talks. He has the most road signs by far in my area of northwest Montana and this influences many voters who don’t spend time researching politics.

Corey Stapleton has well organized campaign. He has excellent statewide name recognition from running for Governor in 2012 election and coming in second to Rick Hill. Corey is a proven vote getter and his TV ads are the best out there.

Matt Rosendale funded his own campaign with $500,000 but otherwise has few supporter donations. He as little statewide name recognition and this is his first time running for statewide office. These are unsurmountable obstacles to winning this primary, no matter how enthusiastic are his supporters. However, Rosendale is setting a base for running for a statewide office in 2016 and his supporters can look forward to that event.

Elsie Arntzen has little statewide name recognition and is running for a statewide office for the first time. Rick Hill, Republican nominee for governor in 2012, has endorsed Arntzen, and this has no doubt helped her get 5% in the poll. Nevertheless, Arntzen, no matter how well qualified, has no chance to win the primary.

Montana politics

Ken Miller, who captured third place behind Rick Hill and Corey Stapleton in Montana’s 2012 governor primary, has issued letters critical of Ryan Zinke. Zinke’s campaign manager responded to Miller’s letter. Miller’s second letter critical of Zinke arrived today. Most of Miller’s letter consists of quoting other people’s ratings and opinions. However, Miller included this list of votes by Ryan Zinke:

  • Yes on HB 198 to allow federal stimulus funds to go to a foreign corporation (Tonbridge) and gave them the force of eminent domain to condemn the land of Montana farmers and ranchers to ship electricity through Montana.
  • No on HB 152 requiring proof of identity and residence to vote.  Only senate republican to vote no.
  • No on HB 318 which would have allowed counties oversight when bison are relocated into that county. One of two senate republicans to vote no.
  • Wrong on numerous bills which would have promoted natural resource development. HB237, HB402, SB233

We all have our hot-button issues. Here are mine. I want a candidate who supports these 2 issues:

  1. Transfer public land to states
  2. Use Article V to restore our Constitution

According to each candidate’s reply to Mark Agather’s questionnaire and Ryan Zinke’s editorial, here are the positions of the top three candidates:

  • Corey Stapleton supports both (1) and (2).
  • Ryan Zinke is against both (1) and (2).
  • Matt Rosendale supports (1) but is against (2).

Therefore, Corey Stapleton gets my vote. I emailed Ryan Zinke on May 4 advising him that I must support Corey because of Ryan’s position against these two critical issues.

Now, if you are against Article V, then Matt Rosendale is your man.

Let’s quickly review these two issues.

Transfer public land to states

Montana’s Senator Jennifer Fielder has taken the lead in Montana’s effort to transfer federal public lands to Montana. The State of Utah has taken the lead among the states and has compiled an extensive record of how, why, and expected result of such land transfer.

The American Lands Council (ALC) has excellent information about this land transfer. ALC points out that this is the only solution big enough to fund education, take better care of the environment, grow the economy, and attain energy independence.

Ryan Zinke supports “energy independence” but does not support the land transfer to make this happen.

Further, ALC notes:

  • At statehood the federal government promised all newly created states that it would transfer to them title to public lands.
  • There is more than $150 trillion dollars of mineral value locked up in federal-controlled lands.
  • This is more oil in federal-locked lands than the rest of the world combined.
  • Federal-managed forests are unhealthy, dangerous, and result in larger and more intense wildfires.

Being against transfer is on the side of the powerful environmental groups whose power base is in large cities like San Francisco. Even if we live in Montana, these groups control our life, our land, and our economy by the power they exert over federal environmental policies and their lawsuits to force federal agencies to do their will.

If we care for our freedom, states must take over control of public lands and stop the EPA from enforcing its policies on private lands.

The Republican National Committee unanimously approved this resolution calling for transfer of public lands to the states:

“RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states for the benefit of these western states and for the nation as a whole.”

Therefore, Ryan Zinke disputes this issue with the RNC.

Use Article V to restore our Constitution

The Convention of States has organized the move toward having an Article V Convention of States. Progress is significant and there is no doubt it will happen.

Support of Article V is now in the mainstream of the Republican Party due to backing and promotion by Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and others.

The legal debate has been won by Mark Levin, Rob Natelson, and Tim Baldwin, to mention only a few.

The position against Article V is supported by the John Birch Society (JBS).

Therefore, Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke have aligned themselves with JBS on the Article V issue.

Watch the debate on Article V Convention of States between Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge and Dr. Michael Farris vs leaders of the Oklahoma John Birch Society.

Tim Baldwin and I had a one-hour meeting with the regional manager of the John Birch Society where we talked about Article V. The JBS rep said the JBS made its decision to be against Article V some 20 years ago and “will not change its position.”

To which Tim remarked,

“In other words, JBS will not change its position on issues even after new research demonstrates they are wrong.”

Tim and I asked the JBS rep to state one reason we should not have an Article V Convention of States. He said “there are many reasons.” I said, “OK, just tell us one reason.” The JBS rep did not state any reason for his position.

Last year, Corey Stapleton travelled all the way to Kalispell to attend the lecture by Rob Natelson on Article V.

Strategic voting considerations

I often hear a Libertarian voter say,

“If the Republicans had given us a better candidate, we would have supported him.”

That statement begs the question of

“Who did you support in the last Republican primary?” and “Did you vote strategically?”

We have a situation in this 2014 primary which is déjà vu to past primaries.

There are three or more candidates. In this case, one is a liberal Republican who the conservatives don’t like, the second is conservative enough to satisfy the more extreme conservatives who sometimes vote Libertarian, and the third is a more extreme conservative who the Libertarians like but who is not politically strong enough to win the primary.

I am describing Ryan Zinke, Corey Stapleton, and Matt Rosendale, respectively.

Here’s the catch that demands a strategy:

If Libertarian-leaning voters back Rosendale all the way to the primary and Elsie Arntzen continues to draw 5%, then Ryan Zinke will likely win.

But if the Matt and Elsie supporters realize they do not have enough votes for Matt or Elsie to win, and they vote for Corey Stapleton, who may be their second choice, then Corey will likely win.

This strategic thinking is an elementary version of “Game Theory”. The life story of game theorist and mathematician John Nash was turned into a biopic, A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe, based on the book by Sylvia Nasar.

In a contest between emotional decisions and game theory decisions, game theory will produce the best results every time. Read a general description of game theory here.

Call to Action

After the primary election for governor in 2012, Ken Miller supported Rick Hill. Unfortunately, not enough of Miller’s supporters followed his lead. Therefore, we have a Democratic governor today who is taking apart every attempt conservatives make to implement a conservative agenda.

To those who voted Libertarian or did not support Rick Hill in the final election of 2012, I ask:

“Did your Libertarian vote in the 2012 final election sufficiently satisfy your ego to make you feel good about electing Democrat Steve Bullock as your governor?”

Let’s not do this in the 2014 election. We are a lot smarter now.

If you like Ryan Zinke, vote for him.

If you prefer Matt Rosendale or Elsie Arntzen then think about what your vote will do to affect the winner of the primary.

If you like Stapleton better than Zinke then you would be wise to vote for Stapleton.

I hope Rick Hill and Ken Miller will update their endorsements to either Zinke or Stapleton. This would demonstrate to their supporters how they encourage strategic voting to win. (1294)

Copyright (c) 2013 by PolyMontana LLC or by the author. All rights reserved.


  1. 1

    Good article Ed and good discussion points. I will comment more on article five issue. It goes beyond the JB part. More to come.

  2. 2

    Out of the five candidates running for congress, Matt Rosendale is the only one who read and believe in the Constitution . The other 4 candidates are RINO’s. If the Constitution was upheld , troubles coming from DC, would be gone. Every since Pres. Wilson, all most every President has hated the Constitution.They did not like their hand bound be the Constitution.

  3. 3
    Dr. Ed says:

    @2, Dear Fred, Article V is part of the Constitution. One cannot support our Constitution and be against Article V. This is like claiming to support our Constitution and being against the Second Amendment.

    I see no evidence that Ronald Reagan hated our Constitution.

  4. 4
    vinny in Livingston says:

    Don’t bet the farm on that “poll” you quoted.
    Enormous damage has been done to Zinke’s campaign on social media and emails that have passed recently. You’re really underestimating Rosendale’s numbers.
    This race will come down the Rosendale and Stapleton, and the ladies may give Arntzen a better showing than you think.

    Hey have you heard..Ryan Zinke was a Navy SEAL!!!!!

  5. 5

    @4, Dear Vinny, you are correct to identify one of my core assumptions, namely the “poll”.

    However, I also presented other data to support the “poll” result, which are statewide name recognition, having run a previous statewide campaign, money donated by Montanan’s, TV ads, and road signs.

    While promoting his conservative image, Matt has gone too extreme by not supporting Article V and taking on the image of a “drone shooter”. This position and image put Matt out of the necessary mainstream Republican vote.

    Matt will collect votes from the tea party minority who are against Article V and love “drone shooters”, but this group is not large enough to help Matt win this election.

    Elsie Arntzen cannot win this election on gender. Most women will look at her background and find it severely lacking in comparison to the Navy and college backgrounds of both Zinke and Stapleton.

  6. 6

    I would love to be a part of a workshop with 3-4 other college Constitution professors and 2-3 founding father historians. Article V is only one option for reviewing what needs to be done to set our nation back on a solid course as the Founding Fathers intended. Ed, talk to Rob N and let’s meet and make recommendations to our Montana elected officials.

  7. 7
    Gloria Roark says:

    I really believe your poll is inaccurate, and I would like to know the origin of the poll.

    One only needs to look at Voting Records, and Rosendale’s is an “A’,” in the Legislature. Zinke’s Voting Record was an “F”, not only to mention the out of state money that he has garnered, and the dicey past with his Super Pac, and for his censure with the Military. Arntzen scored an “F” in the Legislature. Am totally shocked that Hill endorsed her.

    We cannot vote for friends or for people who have served in the Military, just because they have served. We cannot be trapped into electing another John McCain. We need to support candidates of Integrity, who will serve the people and honor the Constitution and will not be part of the problem but have solutions.

    Ken Miller was circumvented and now we have a Democrat for Governor. Thank you, RINO’S. Republicans and the leadership in particular, need to quit “being stuck on stupid,” or at least quit aiding and abetting the Progressives.

    I am supporting Matt Rosendale, who is more than qualified to represent Montana. Matt cares about the people, and speaks with clarity. He will put Montana first.

  8. 8

    @7 Dear Gloria,

    I addressed the “poll” accuracy in my comment @5.

    The voting records you reference are facts that each voter can use to decide who to support in the primary election.

    I agree we should not base our votes on military service alone. There are some bad military people, like the former President of the U of Montana. We should look at the total experience and capabilities of each candidate as well as where they stand on the issues.

    Ken Miller was not “circumvented”. It was a fair primary race and he got third place.

    The reason we have a Democrat governor is not because of the RINO’s. RINO’s voted for Hill. It’s because too many Miller supporters did not support Hill in the final election, even though Miller endorsed Hill.

    Bullock’s election demonstrates the stupidity of tea party conservatives who voted Libertarian rather than for Hill in the final election. Libertarian voters elected Bullock who vetoed many good conservative bills that Hill would have signed.

    By their irrational, destructive voting, Libertarian voters are now despised by mainstream Republicans. It’s the Libertarian voters who are “stuck on stupid”.

    When you are the tail, you can’t expect to wag the dog!

    Matt is a good person and a good candidate but he cannot win this primary election for the reasons I have stated.

    I have no problem with you supporting Matt. However, I will have a big problem with conservatives who do not support the winner of this primary in the final election.

  9. 9

    Ed: Your comments are excellent back to Gloria. Rick Hill should have won. When Mitt Romney carried Montana by 60,000 votes Hill should have won. You are also correct about supporting the Republican Primary winners. Our new White Hat Express newsletter which is going out tonight is a pep talk to everyone because we need to be united after the primary – not divided.

  10. 10
    Mike Asselta says:

    With respect Ed, the reason we are losing our liberty is because we compromise on our liberty. Voting for the “lesser of the evils” is still voting for evil.

    It is a moot point to say that Hill would have signed the “good conservative bills”. We just don’t know that. More to the point, the Republican establishment has backed and voted for certain deplorable measures such as Common Core [this happened in the all Republican controlled Wisconsin state government].

    If there are Republicans that are upset with libertarian leaning voters for not supporting the party’s candidate in the general election, then they are guilty of transference. Many conservatives are alienated from the Republican Party because they see a lack of vision and principle. Therefore, it is the moral thing to do when one “jumps ship” and votes for a third party or write in candidate. We need principled statesmen [and women] to be in political office, for it is only they who will have the backbone to turn this thing around. After all, we are running out of time.

    We need real solutions now; for example, a full scale audit of the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Bank that will hopefully result in the revocation of its charter. Who do you trust to do that? Zinke, Stapleton or Rosendale? I’m putting my money on the latter.

  11. 11

    @10, Dear Mike,

    The topics you bring up have been well addressed on

    First, if you go to the PolyMontana menu “Platforms/USA GOP Resolutions” and read the list of resolutions, you will see the Republican Party is a lot better than you make it out to be.

    While you claim “the Republican establishment has backed and voted for certain deplorable measures such as Common Core”, the GOP
    proves the GOP is clearly against Common Core.

    Second, while you may believe it is evil to vote for the “lesser of the evils” and “moral” to “jump ship” and vote for a third party, you must consider the consequences of your actions.

    It is not your “principles” that make you right, it is the result of your actions that determine whether you are right.

    The Biblical guideline is “by their works (or results of their actions) we shall know them.”

    When you refuse to support the “lesser of the evils” then you are supporting the “worst of the evils” and this is immoral.

    Example: If you voted Libertarian in the 2012 Montana final election and thereby helped Bullock beat Hill for Governor and Tester beat Rehberg for US Senator, then you moved Montana and America towards the worst evil. Such action is immoral, not moral.

    I recommend you read Tim Baldwin’s articles on this subject:
    The Lesser Evil Principle: A Guide to Success,
    Tea Party split is Inevitable,
    TEA Partiers must learn Tactics, and
    TEA Party Purists resemble Religious Cultists.

    Tim shows with force and clarity how your “moral” suppositions are logically wrong.

  12. 12
    Gloria Roark says:

    Please enter my last remarks. It is the right and fair thing to do.

  13. 13

    A fair primary system, this will never happen until we change how the primary system. As it stands right now, when you go to the primary, you are given two ballots,one republican and one democrat. Since in most cases the dimocrats only run one candidate, democrats will vote on the republican ballot, and pick the candidate that thinks like a democrat. To solve this problem , when you register to vote, you must stipulate what party you belong to or you are independent. How when you go to the primary, you get the ballot of your party. Independents can not vote in a primary. This would go a long way to eliminate RINO’s. For example Ryan Zinke and Bruce Tutvedt are not a Republican.

  14. 14

    @12, Dear Gloria, I have no idea what you are talking about. I do not edit or filter any comments based upon their opinion. PolyMontana is open to all opinions.

    Whatever you entered in your @7 comment, that is what got entered. WordPress software adds your comment automatically without asking me. If you have more to comment, then just enter it.

  15. 15

    @13, Dear Fred, Our 2014 ballot will include a bill to change Montana’s primary system such that the top 2 finishers in the primary will go on to compete in the final election. If Montana voters approve this bill then it may solve the problem you mention. I support this bill. I will have to dig up its title later.

  16. 16

    I don’t know where you are getting your poll results from. According to a May 10th article in “The Daily Interlake”, David Parker, a political science professor at Montana State University, said – – – he believes the primary race will come down to Zinke and Rosendale. They have raised the most money, although he said Rosendale hasn’t been as successful as Zinke.
    “Zinke has the resources and a compelling background,” Parker said. “The man was a Navy SEAL. In the hierarchy of military experience, that’s darned near the top.”
    Rosendale, a real estate developer, has Libertarians and Republican “Young Guns” — a group of younger party members, helping form a solid organization behind him, Parker said.”
    I served in the Montana Legislature with both Rosendale and Stapleton and can testify there is a world of difference in how they vote. Stapleton says he voted to increase state spending because he supported Judy Martz and her budget. He also wants to spend our money on a medical school in Billings. If he is elected to Congress and Speaker Boehner wants to spend more money will he again be a big spender? How many more medical schools will he vote to spend our tax dollars on.
    It was like a breath of fresh air to serve in the House Local Government Committee with Rosendale. He does believe in property rights. He is also adamantly opposed to abortion and solidly pro Second Amendment. That is probably why over 50 sitting or former Montana legislators (mostly conservative) have endorsed him for Congress. I know that is why I am proud to be one of the legislators who has endorsed Rosendale.
    If either Stapleton or Zinke win the primary I will probably put up their sign in my front yard. They are both pleasant people and I do want Republicans to hold the majority in Congress. But I won’t have the fire in my belly to make campaign contributions to them or talk my friends into letting me put their signs on my friends’ property.
    After all, I sat next to John Bohlinger when we both were Republican senators, and he would give you the shirt off of his back. Only problem, like most liberals, maybe including Zinke and Stapleton, he would also give you the shirt off of my back.
    Let’s get behind Matt Rosendale for Congress, someone we can be proud to support!

  17. 17

    My question is pretty simple. The Republicans need to win in November and then win the Governor’s race in 2016. My question, in order for Republicans to win in November is, “Will the ones who lose in the primary support the winners?” I welcome comments on that question because we can’t win if we are not unified.

  18. 18

    Republicans were in control during the Martz years and spending increased and they gave into the Feds on a constant basis. Remember those dead beat dad laws? We can say the same thing about spending during the Bush years. Those Congress Critters who said spending was a problem, were also the ones to increase the national debt. It’s no wonder Rehberg lost in 2012. So why didn’t all those Montana Romney voters support Republicans? You can’t blame libertarians and independents for the failures of the Republican Party.

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