The race for Max Baucus' Senate seat heated up this week with candidacy announcements by both former Montana Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger and congressman Steve Daines.

According to MSU political science professor David Parker, there are good reasons why this race is unlikely to be as heated as the race between John Tester and Denny Rehberg in 2012.

"Here's the singular biggest difference between this cycle and that cycle," said Parker.  "The first ad in the cycle in '12 started in March of 2011. We are already well past that, so, first of all, we are not going to see quite the volume and intensity in this cycle that we saw in the previous cycle relative to the senate race. This is not going to be a $55 million race."

Parker predicts a final showdown between John Walsh and Steve Daines that may, or may not be close.

"This could be a good year for republicans in the midterm elections in Montana--a good place for republicans to pick up a senate seat," said Parker. "Walsh is untested. We don't know how competitive he is going to make the race because we don't know about his fundraising prowess. Until that is known, we don't know how competitive his race is going to be. If he doesn't raise a lot of money, it doesn't matter what his message is, no one is going to hear it. Steve Daines already has a lot of money."

The votes won't be counted for nearly a year, but it seems pretty clear that no matter how divisive this senate race gets, it is unlikely to produce nearly as many ads as the record setting 2012 campaign.