Montana's House seat has been Democrats' white whale: since 1996, they've come within single digits of winning it five different times, most recently in 2018, but never succeeded. However, the creation of a brand new western seat that unites the college towns of Missoula and Bozeman, combined with GOP former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's high negatives, have kept Democratic attorney Monica Tranel competitive.
The 2020 Census restored Montana's second seat for the first time since 1990. Under the new lines, GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale is running for reelection in the safe, Trump +27 2nd CD in the eastern plains. But the open western 1st CD is more competitive: in 2018, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester carried it by 10 points. In 2020, Donald Trump carried it by seven points, but GOP Sen. Steve Daines carried it by just one point.
In a pro-GOP midterm like 2022 is shaping up to be, a Trump +7 open seat should be a slam dunk for Republicans. But Zinke's ethics-clouded exit from the Trump administration and whereabouts since have complicated his congressional comeback bid.
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