Could Idaho’s fast growth impact the primary races?

Posted at 11:40 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 13:40:13-04

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho voters today are choosing Democratic, Republican and Constitutional party candidates to represent them in the November general election.

Democrats are using a primary for the first time. They used a caucus in 2016 to select Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama handily won the Democratic contest in Idaho over Clinton in 2008.

Sanders is in the race again, but now he’ll have to face former vice president Joseph Biden, who drew more than 100 donors at an Idaho event in August.

Officials say switching to a Democratic primary this year from a caucus could significantly increase the number of participants -- and play a role in the outcome.

Sanders and Biden are the two big names left on the Democratic side after Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the race last week.

President Donald Trump is expected to have little difficulty winning the Republican primary.

Idaho last year was the nation’s fastest-growing state, with close to 37,000 new residents boosting its population to nearly 1.8 million. That’s a 2.1 percent population increase.

In the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the deeply conservative state has seen a population jump of more than 200,000. Studies indicate many have come from liberal-leaning California, Oregon and Washington.

But it’s not clear if those new residents bringing blue-state politics or are Republicans fleeing the coast for conservative Idaho.

Jaclyn Kettler, a Boise State University political scientist, said it appears Democrats, in general, are moving to urban areas and Republicans to more rural areas -- continuing the urban-rural divide between Democrats and Republicans prevalent in states in the U.S. West.

The House went from eleven to fourteen Democrats in the 2018 election. Democrats flipped four urban district seats, but lost an urban district in northern Idaho after the incumbent Democrat ran for governor.

(by Keith Ridler, Associated Press)