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The margin of victory for Republican Greg Gianforte was much narrower than polling suggested, but he easily carried the day over Democrat Rob Quist. If Quist would have won, it would have broken a two-decade streak for the GOP in holding Montana’s single at-large congressional seat.

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CBS News reports on the race results:

Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana’s only U.S. House seat Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

Gianforte cruised to victory after weathering a political firestorm, observes CBS Billings affiliate KTVQ-TV. He won 48 of Montana’s 56 counties, the station notes.

Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, defeated Democrat Rob Quist to continue the GOP’s two-decade stronghold on the congressional seat. Democrats had hoped Quist, a musician and first-time candidate, could capitalize on a wave of activism following President Trump’s election.

Instead, the win reaffirmed Montana’s voters support for Mr. Trump’s young presidency in a conservative-leaning state that voted overwhelmingly for him in November.

Montana’s special election marks the third electoral contest where Democrats had hoped to upset the GOP, but fell short the when it came time for actual voting. This seat in Montana probably wasn’t all that competitive to begin with, but with outside money and attention pouring it, the appearance of a competitive race helped to raise it’s profile and the profile of each candidate.

Then came the hands-on assault of a UK Guardian reported by Gianforte on election-eve and it seemed that maybe it could swing the vote in Quist’s direction. It may have helped him a little but, but so much of Montana votes early that it probably doesn’t matter. This situation perfectly illustrates why I think there are major issues with letting large portions of the voter pool vote early without a good reason. Certainly there were some who voted for Gianforte who might have changed their votes after the incident on Wednesday. Whether or not it would have swung the election is up for debate, but it demonstrates how races can change even up to the last minute.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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