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Posts published in “Idaho”

The state of abortion

There's no huge shock, but some food for thought, in the latest Survey USA state-by-state poll on abortion.

The question asked was whether the respondent considered himself or herself "pro-life" or "pro-choice." There are loads of objections to this approach, not least that attitudes on abortion in this country tend to be far more nuanced than that. But the effort to deliver a clean dividing line as a tool for political analysis.

Natonwide, SUSA said, 38% call themselves "pro-life," and 56% "pro-choice." In ranking the states, in just 13 states did the "pro-life" percentage outnumber "pro-choice." Utah came in first, which is no surprise.

Idaho was fourth, decisively so, 55% pro-life, 41% pro-choice. So decisive a pro-life lead is a little surprising, since the issue has not been a decisive winner at the polls. The last time it was a truly driving issue was in 1990, when the Idaho Legislature passed what would have been the strongest anti-abortion legislation in the country, only to see itself rebuked first by Governor Cecil Andrus' veto and then by Idaho voters, who gave the state's Democrats a sohrt moment of sunshine before the Republican lock set in two years later.

But - on the other hand - that was 15 years ago, and Idaho has changed a lot since. Has it become so much more socially conservative that the legislature's action, rejected in 1990, would be decisively upheld today? Maybe so.

Oregon and Washington scored almost identically in the SUSA survey, with 33% and 32% respectively calling themselves "pro-life," and 62% and 63% respectively self-described "pro-choice." Makes clear why the issue doesn't often come up in these states as a wedge; it wouldn't work very well.

In Tuesday's balloting, California voters rejected a proposal to require parental notification for abortion for a minor. (California's numbers: 28% pro-life, 65% pro-choice.) There has been talk about putting such an issue on the Oregon ballot in 2006. One suspects that after a review of the California results, and of polling information, that idea may go by the boards.

and in Idaho Falls

There were few shockers in Idaho - most everything in southwest Idaho was predictable, and was predicted, with maybe excepted the small size of the Swindell vote. But every election has its surprise, and for that we turn to Idaho Falls.

Idaho Falls city hallThat city has a new mayor, since three-termer Linda Milam, long assumed to be in effect a moderate Democrat, opted not to run again. In this conservative city, the ongoing expectation was that her replacement would be the man she defeated eight years (two terms) ago: Bill Shurtleff, then a county commissioner who went on to serve on the city council, and clearly a conservative Republican. He is more experienced now than he was then, a number of people noted. And some of his then-rough edges have smoothed over a bit.

But so much for making assumptions. Shurtleff's main opponent (there was a third, minor, candidate too, nicknamed "Huggy Bear") was an 18-year Idaho Falls police officer named Jared Fuhriman, a new member of one of the local school boards but not terribly well known. But he presented himself well, and he picked up Milam's endorsement. His status as a public employee and backing from a political moderate would not seem to be good medicine in a community as "conservative" as Idaho Falls. But who knew? He took 58% of the vote to just 36% for Shurtleff - a stunning win.

Maybe there's more going on under the surface in Idaho Falls than most of us think. Or maybe even that city caught a whiff of the Tuesday night political air.

Boise wrap

No basic changes from the earlier post on the Boise races. The bottom line remains: incumbents Bisterfeldt crushes Seeley and Jordan crushes Swindell by landslide margins, and Tibbs ousts incumbent Mapp by a smaller but substantial margin.

This was not a pro- or anti-incumbent thing. People clearly drew a distinction between Tibbs and Swindell instead of - as pieces of their constituency sought to do - linking them together. Their candidacies were about very different things. The candidates could hardly have been more different:- Tibbs very well known in town for decades and deeply involved in the community on a range of subjects, Swindell a flash who showed up to protest on the Ten Commandments and has little other relevant background in civic affairs. The voters may have noticed.

This was not a particularly ideological thing, either, though the small size of the Swindell vote, following all the publicity she got and organization brought to bear, does suggest that Boise (the city, not the area beyond city limits) is backing off, gently, from the philosophical right, and toward the center. That may give some reassurance to Mayor David Bieter as he looks toward re-election in a couple of years. And that can be effectively counterpoised with the presence of Tibbs on the council, which certainly should keep the mayor on his toes.

Idaho cities, round 1

All right, the vote counters are being a little slow this evening, but the 10 precincts reported in the Boise council races - since we do know which they are and where they are - do turn out to be enough to let us draw some preliminary conclusions.

That's because the districts are so widely scattered: three in the southeast, three in the west, one in the north end, the others around the bench and northwest. Politically, they're a smattering, not unreasonably representative of Boise as a whole, probably de-emphasizing the North End vote if anything.

Those precincts give incumbent Vern Bisterfeldt 76% in his race: He'll win going away. In the Maryanne Jordan (incumbent)/Brandi Swindell race, Jordan seems to be doing nearly as well, with 73% of the vote against a high-profile, energetic and organized opponent. Guess here is that the 73% will slip, but not nearly enough to cost Jordan re-election. More on this in a bit.

In Jim Tibbs' effort to unseat long-time incumbent Jerome Mapp, things are a little less clear, though looking good for Tibbs - who has 53.7% - at the moment. I wouldn't call it yet, but Tibbs seems to have an edge.

Elsewhere in Idaho, Pocatello Mayor Roger Chase looks (based on a third of the vote in) to be cruisng to a landslide re-election. Council member Richard Stallings (a former congressman) appeared to be doing likewise, though conservative Harry Neuhardt appeared to be in trouble.

A shocker in Idaho Falls may be in the making, however, if early numbers hold up. Former county commissioner and council member Roger Shurtleff, who was expected to cakewalk into the mayoralty, looks headed for defeat. We'll update before long to check if that holds up.

Election night

Be sure to check back in after the polls close this evening. We'll have review and analysis of the Northwest elections, starting as soon as the numbers arrive.

Falling papers

Dark days for newspapers have been here so long it's hard to remember when they were a growing, thriving medium. When was that? A century ago, when most mid-sized to large communities still had two or three? A half-century ago, when all but a few communities were monopoly markets but the papers still had strong penetration into their communities?

Circulation reports for daily newspapers, according to the new FAS-FAX reports, are down almost everywhere, large papers and small alike.
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