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Idaho and the presidential

More than in Oregon and Washington, political people in Idaho seem overwhelmingly to know exactly who they prefer in their party’s contests: former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among Republicans, and Illinois Senator Barack Obama among Democrats. As the tight contests in both parties unfold, the partisan may be in an unusual position: Republicans sitting there unable to act (as regards voting), while Democrats may be able to do their bit in influencing matters.

That would be because Idaho Democrats will be caucusing on superextravaganza Tuesday, February 5; Idaho is one of the 22 states where voting activity will take place that day. (Oregon and Washington will not be among them.) If the race between Obama and New York Senator Hillary Clinton is still tight on the 5th, Idaho may actually matter – Democrats do seem to hve made their choice. There’s enough support in the state that the Obama campaign established an office in Boise some time ago, and Obama-related events have drawn big crowds.

The establishment of that office and that Idaho network seemed a little out there a couple of months back. Today it looks prescient. And if Clinton has any substantial organization in Idaho, it has been under wraps; and more than a few Idaho Democrats would be happier with an Obama nomination simply on grounds that he would be more helpful/less damaging to down-ticket candidates. We’re unaware as yet of any substantial political figures endorsing Clinton in Idaho (though we do know of plenty in Washington and Oregon).

Idaho may be one of the smaller pieces of the February 5 puzzle, but if the battle is close, it could certainly matter. And this one piece weighs in for Obama.

While the Democrats caucus, the Republicans will have to wait for the May primary, by which time Romney will likely either have been eliminated or threaded the needle.

Or maybe neither. We’ve read (notably on some national Republican blogs like Red State) a growing line of thought that the GOP field is so deeply split that no candidate might be able to wrap of the nomination pre-convention. If so, Idaho’s voice may have its say anyway.

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