Rural areas have, in most elections over the past 40 years, sided with Republican candidates while major urban areas, such as New York, Chicago and Missoula, have sided with Democratic candidates.
Talking to farmers and ranchers of Hill and Blaine counties, it seems that the tendency continues, though not as much for the Republican platform as for the general disdain for and mistrust of government that many Republicans have expressed constantly and acted on rarely.
“I think we're screwed no matter what, ” Caleb Maetche, who farms west of Harlem, said. “They're just going to spend more and more money, and we’re going to go broke no matter who's in there. ”
Another group in Hill County, retired farmers and parents of current farmers, were playing pinochle in the Gildford Mercantile Tuesday morning, as they had for 30 years. They also seemed disillusioned, particularly by the overly negative and painfully ubiquitous advertising and rhetoric of this election.
“The election stinks, ” Shorty Stuart said. “All this blasting is not helping anything. ”
“It would be nice if they could tell the truth, ” retired farmer Lowell Miller said.
“I don’t think they know what the truth is, ” Stuart added.
Down the road a bit, at the Milk River Co-op office in Rudyard, a half- dozen men were drinking coffee and conversing. Though they had many comments, none of them wanted their names associated with them.
Mostly they were sick of the constant childish bickering.
“Between Tester and Rehberg, we need someone else, ” one said. “All they do is (complain) about each other. They don't talk about what they're going to do just what they did. ”
“I’m sick of the commercials, ” another said. “Tester’s got commercials on YouTube clips from the ’70s. My god, I can't get away from that guy. ”
One more offered a new take on the election that is harsh, but honest.
He made comments with racial overtones that were followed by uncomfortable laughs from others.
Though the comment came from Hill County, the type was anticipated by Harlem Mayor Bill Taylor, who warned of the unorthodox views that he hears from local farmers and ranchers.
“They talk to and listen to the smartest (SOB) they know, all day everyday, ” Taylor said. “And when they do, they come up with opinions that are not fit for politics. ”