While Democrats all over the country had a rough night, pause a moment to consider the Democrats in Idaho.
Going into this election, they had one major office holder, Representative Walt Minnick. Votes are still being counted, but he looks to be headed to a clear defeat, after doing almost everything possible to endear himself to Republicans over the last two years, and after drastically outspending his opponent, Republican Raul Labrador. While operating from a position of power in Washington. At this point, Minnick's loss doesn't even look to be close.
They had high hopes for Keith Allred, who had spent years bridging gaps between Republicans and Democrats, described himself not as a Democrat at all but as an Independent, even appeared on on Fox News and surprised the conservative hosts with how conservative he sounded. He was a highly presentable campaigner who worked hard, came across well - no rough edges at all - and drew support from a bunch of prominent long-time Republicans. With more than half of the precincts reporting, he was losing to a Republican governor who has been fielding a wide range of shots all year, by 60.5% to 31.7% - almost two to one.
They thought that pitting the retiring Boise school superintendent, a knowledgeable and articulate man, against the Republican state school superintendent, might do the trick. He is losing by 61.4% to 38.6%. Democrats are losing all the other major offices as well, in general by percentages even more stark.
Democrats probably will maintain their seven seats (of 35) in the state Senate, picking up one in Latah County to compensate for a loss in southeast Boise. But their House caucus is likely to fall from 18 members to 13 (out of 70). Cracks are showing in the Boise legislative districts they have held the last two cycles. Two high-energy legislative campaigns in the west Boise suburbs yielded results not markedly different from the norm.
The point is this: Idaho Democrats are going to have to figure out a different way of doing things if they want to move beyond fringe status. Will they?