Analysis of some Idaho election results

Posted at 7:27 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 10:22:42-05

BOISE, Idaho — The state of Idaho went largely Republican in the 2020 election.

Overall, there weren't any majorly shocking results at the state level. Many Republican incumbents even ran unopposed.

"Idaho's a Republican state, we knew that was likely, but I think Republicans had a really good night," political analyst and BSU assistant professor Dr. Jaci Kettler said. "[Republicans] picked up a couple of legislative seats, one county commission race in Ada County, so they picked up some of those key down-ballot races."

That county commissioner race between incumbent Democrat Diana Lachiando and Republican challenger Ryan Davidson was expected to be close. Ultimately, Davidson won with 51% of the vote.

"You know, Trump won Ada County in 2016 by nine percentage points, so it seemed likely that Republicans could take Ada County again," Dr. Kettler said. "But after Democrats had success in the county in 2018, I think they were hoping for some momentum and success in the 2020 election as well."

As for voter turnout, Idaho saw a huge increase compared to the last presidential election. Statewide, more than 865,000 voters weighed in on the presidential race. Ada County alone saw a roughly 60,000 vote increase compared to 2016.

"A lot of counties are reporting upwards of 70%, 80% of turn out," Dr. Kettler said. "It looks like in Ada County 88% of registered voters turned out which is just an amazingly high number."

So what about those worries that out-of-staters moving to Idaho would turn the historically red state purple?

"What we see is the people moving here tend to reflect the partisan makeup of the state," Dr. Kettler said. "So, yes, there are some Democrats and liberal voters moving in, but there’s also a lot of conservative and Republican voters moving in."

One other key takeaway at the local level? Every vote counts.

The Ada County Highway District Zone 2 seat came down to just two votes.

Challenger Alexis Pickering scored 15,735 votes compared to incumbent Rebecca Arnold's 15,733 votes.

“Two votes! That just an amazingly small margin," Dr. Kettler said. "That’s where you can see every vote matters.”

Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane expects a recount to be requested in that race. Candidates have 20 days to request a recount after votes are finalized next Tuesday.