Idaho Democrats Claw Back Seats At State Capitol

Nov 8, 2018

Democrats won’t occupy any of Idaho’s statewide offices after Tuesday’s election, but they did make inroads at the state legislature.

The party picked up four new seats in the House and one in the Senate. Those districts include two seats in West Boise, one in the Wood River Valley, one in Pocatello and another in Moscow.

But Democrats lost a spot in the north-central Idaho district held by former state Rep. Paulette Jordan, who ran for governor.

Jaclyn Kettler, a political science professor at Boise State, says Democrats also racked up higher vote totals than they had seen in the past.

“So even though Democrats maybe overall only picked up four seats in the legislature, they may have made some important movement in other districts as well,” Kettler says.

That could have been due to higher Democratic turnout nationwide or excitement over big-ticket races in Idaho.

She doesn’t believe ideology is changing much, since most of the seats gained are in growing urban areas or historically toss up districts.

“I don’t know if there was a lot of flipping going on, but we may have also gotten more mobilization of infrequent voters that lean left or unaffiliated voters starting to lean a little bit more left.”

Democrats might even pick up one more seat – and with it, the entire West Boise area. Republican incumbent Fred Martin is ahead of Jim Bratnober by just six votes, which will trigger a recount later this month.

Regardless of the outcome, Republicans will still control a supermajority in each chamber, as well as the governor's office.

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