Writings and observations

In 2008, in Idaho’s 1st U.S. House district, Republican Bill Sali lost his office to Democrat Walt Minnick. In 2010, Minnick in turn lost it to Republican Raul Labrador. Question: Which of these Republicans, Sali or Labrador, would you suppose won about 45,000 more votes than the other in these elections?

You can guess where this is going: Sali, in losing, took 171,687 votes, while Labrador, winning this year – in a strong win by a strong margin – took 126,231 votes: Far fewer.

Look closely at the vote totals in the two elections and you find what sure looks like evidence in Idaho of that vaunted enthusiasm gap: A relatively larger number of Democrats not voting in 2010 who had in 2008. The closer you look, the more it looks that way.

For example. While the general election vote for the Republican nominee dropped from 2008 to 2010 by 26.5%, Minnick’s own vote fell by 41.9% (from about 176,000 to about 102,000) – same guy, running from a position of incumbency on a core platform not all that different from what he’d campaigned on the first time. A whole lot of people who voted for him earlier, took a pass this time.

Of course, that was true to some extent across the board: Idahoans cast fewer votes in 2010 than 2008, since turnout always declines in non-presidential election years. Overall in Idaho, it dropped by 32.8%. The Republican drop in the 1st district was less than that (26.5%), and Minnick’s was more (41.9%).

This also seems to be true in the governor’s race, which provides in some ways a cleaner comparison since in Idaho all governor’s races are off-presidential. The actual vote received by Democratic nominee Keith Allred this year (148,300) was down by 25.4% from that received four years ago by Democrat Jerry Brady (198,845). But Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter, who won, saw his vote total moderately rise from 237,437 to 266,992 – up by 12.4%, even as all sorts of anecdotal evidence had seemed to show his popularity in decline. The 2010 Republican “tide” might account for some of Otter’s boost, but should it account for such a massive drop among Democratic-leaning voters?

You can find lots of other examples among other candidates, notably among Democrats.

From election to election, of course, some people may change their minds, or their sides. But that happens less often than a decision to simply sit this one out. Look at the numbers again, and see what conclusions you draw.

We’ll revisit this later.

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Idaho

Take a look through the CNN exit polling data posted on their web site – there’s plenty to see for Northwest analysis. Not much for Idaho; none of the races there were exit-polled by the organization. But Washington Senate, and Oregon Senate and governor, were.

The distinctions between the genders on the two Oregon races are notable. In both cases men voted much more strongly for the Republican candidates than did women. Democrat John Kitzhaber lost men 36%-60% to Republican Chris Dudley, while winning women 62%-36% – a decisive difference for both genders. Both genders went for incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden in the Senate race (which overall he won more sweepingly), but while he won the female vote 64%-34%, he won men by just 49% to 47% over Republican Jim Huffman. (Might Dudley’s sports background have affected the numbers just a little?)

CNN did not break down the various ethnic sub-groups in Oregon, but it did note that Dudley got more of the “white” vote than Kitzhaber did.

Given that, the breakdown in Washington was not unexpected: Women voted in majority (56%) for Democrat Patty Murray, men (53%) for Republican Dino Rossi.

One of the interesting bits: CNN asked whether anyone in the household belonged to a labor union, and then how the person voted. Among those who said no one in the house was a member, the Senate candidates split their votes evenly. Among those who reported “yes” (this amounted to a fifth of the respondents) Murray prevailed, as you might expect – but just 53% to 47%.

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Oregon Washington

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weekly Digest

The elections last week – recounted in detail to the legislative and judicial level for Washington, Oregon and Idaho – were dominant elements of Northwest developments in the new Digests. The results moved Washington and Oregon closer to the center, and Idaho more Republican than it already was.

Elections aside, the week was busy on plenty of other developments, in area from the economy (some continuing bad news, but not entirely) to education and arrival of still more federal programs that got little press attention.

As a reminder: We’re now publishing weekly editions of the Public Affairs Digests – for Idaho, Washington and Oregon – moving from a monthly to a weekly rundown of what’s happening. And we’re taking it all-electronic: The print edition will be moving to e-mail.

That means we can include more information, and get it out a lot faster: The weekly Digests will be in your in-box first thing Monday morning. If you subscribe, of course: That’s $59 a year, for 50 issues and the yearbook. Yes, including the yearbook. The Idaho Yearbook, which we published for years up to 2002, will return early in 2011 – in printed book form – and Digest subscribers get it for free with their subscription. And the Oregon and Washington yearbooks will be coming out at the same time.

If you’d like to take a look at one of the new weekly Digests, here’s a link to the Idaho edition, to the Oregon edition and to the Washington edition. If you’d like to subscribe, here are the links (through to PayPal) for Idaho, for Oregon and for Washington.

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