When I was a kid, Idaho enjoyed a fairly healthy balance of political power. Democratic Governor Cecil Andrus served alongside a Republican lieutenant governor and for one legislative term, the Idaho Senate was evenly divided. As I grew up, Idaho veered rightward. Today, new migration patterns are rapidly accelerating the trend, and an interesting paradox has emerged in Boise State University’s new polling.
The 2024 Idaho Public Policy Survey finds newcomers are 11 percentage points more likely to identify as Republicans and 10 percentage points less likely to identify as Independents than Idahoans who have lived here for more than 10 years. One would expect the increasingly Republican voting population to align tightly with the Republican supermajority in power, but that is not the case. In fact, the polling shows that Idahoans overwhelmingly agree with Democrats on the major issues of our day.
A majority of Idahoans oppose the abortion ban the GOP enacted. Nearly 70% of voters trust their libraries to make decisions about the content they make available, while Republican lawmakers bring bills threatening librarians with jail time and expensive lawsuits. As GOP legislators push for school vouchers, only 49% of Idahoans approve, and support drops when respondents consider the diminished school funding they will cause.
For the first time in the survey’s history, more voters thought Idaho was moving in the wrong direction compared to 40% who think Idaho is on the right track.
A different poll showed strong opposition to Medicaid cuts and strong support for leaving Medicaid expansion in place, while the Republican supermajority seeks to slash Medicaid and repeal Medicaid expansion. Yet another poll revealed very strong support for investing in our dilapidated school facilities, an issue Republican lawmakers have refused to act on for years.
These discrepancies underscore a stark contrast between the policy preferences of regular Idahoans and the legislation pursued by the dominant political party.
To long-time Republicans who have been left behind by their party, I invite you to take a closer look at Idaho Democrats. For newcomers to Idaho who voted Republican in their former states, I invite you to get to know your Idaho Democratic candidates and our local issues. And every Idahoan should read the Idaho Democratic Party platform and compare it to the Idaho Republican Party platform, which is squarely outside the mainstream.
For representative democracy to function well, voters need to stay engaged, research candidates, and provide accountability when politicians ignore their views.
If you, like a majority of Idahoans, support adequate school funding and safe facilities, oppose costly voucher schemes with zero accountability, support our libraries, or want the restoration of our reproductive freedoms, a vote for Idaho Democrats is your best bet.
Idaho Democratic Party Chair