The 2010 elections marked a monumental victory for conservatives and the GOP in Montana, handing Republicans a 68 seat control of the State House. It seemed, aside from the pending Roy Brown (R)/ Kendall Van Dyk (D) recount, that Republicans were overjoyed by the election results, getting results better than even campaign operatives had expected. The one dark spot on the election returns: when conservative Judge Nels Swandal of Wilsall lost a close race to Helena attorney Beth Baker for the Montana Supreme Court.
Which must make this news even more heartwrenching for supporters of Swandal. Apparently the Swandal camp got word from Bresnan Communications, the leading cable provider here in Montana, that they would be receiving a $23,000 check back from Bresnan. That’s right- $23,000 of TV ads that would have aired several times a day in the last 2 weeks of the election on channels like Fox News and others- that did not go to air.
Judge Swandal’s wife Debra sent an e-mail to supporters which was forwarded to me. Part of that message is included below:
Bresnan TV, called Nels and apologized for a problem with his TV ads. They had some sort of internal glitch and did not play any of Nels’ ads in the 2 weeks prior to the election. Those ads were prepaid and the time slots were selected by Nels & his campaign manager in early September. We paid for 50-60 ads per day for the 2 weeks prior to Nov 2nd.
Political research tells us that uninformed voters decide who to vote for in the weeks just prior to an election and that name recognition is the most important deciding factor. I believe that those ads would have made more than the necessary 2% difference in the outcome of this election. Nels should have won.
Bresnan is refunding the $ paid for the ads and is “looking into” how this happened.
The final vote: Baker won with roughly 52% of the vote, while Swandal carried roughly 47% of the vote. Could the 2 weeks of advertising focused on a conservative-leaning viewer tipped the scales? I’ll leave that to the political strategists and poli sci professors, but it certainly seems plausible.