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ID results 1 – The sea remains the same

The polling was leaving Idaho Democrats breathless: That sea change they’ve been waiting for, for the last 14 years at least, seemed at hand, with polling that actually put several Democratic candidates for major office ahead of Republicans.

Now we have the actual votes, enough of them at least to tell that the sea has not changed.

At this writing, only about half of the precincts are in. (Canyon County, notoriously late in last May’s primary, is late coming in again. And so Bannock, and some others.) But the vote distribution seems generally broad enough to draw some conclusions, starting with this: The two big races on which Democrats had pinned their highest hopes, for governor and for the 1st district U.S. House seat, appear to be going to the Republicans, C.L. “Butch” Otter and Bill Sali.

And that is true despite a long string of advantages that appeared to play to Democrats’ favor: A terrible national atmosphere for Republicans (a very good night for Democrats nationally), big problems in the campaigns of the Republicans, campaigns by the Democrats that were played smartly, issues that played to the Democrats’ advantage, and much more. But Republicans in Idaho have massive institutional advantages at this point, and a lot of people in the state simply cannot conceive of wanting to vote for a Democrat. And they didn’t.

Nor (based on the most recent results) did they win the race for superintendent of public instruction, or for state controller, and in both cases they seemed to have some unusual advantages. In the latter, strong endorsements from industry groups and even Republicans like Frnak Vander Sloot of Idaho Falls; none of that matters, evidently, nearly as much as party identification.

There are specks of light for the Democrats. On the legislative front, they did make – as we suspected they would – substantial progress in the districts of the city of Boise, taking all three seats in the three most urban of the Boise legislative districts, and two of three seats in another (apparently – results were not yet final on that one). Boise seems en route to becoming a Democratic city, a trend evident in the 2004 elections and clearer now.

As for inroads elsewhere . . . there were a few. Results were incomplete in some cases, though Democrats do appear to have won a smattering of other races.

We’ll come back to all this.

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