1. This could — and maybe should — change the way Democrats and Republicans approach statewide races. Democrats spent $3 million (much of it from Balukoff himself) in the governor race alone. He still didn’t break 40 percent of the vote statewide.
It’s a different race, but let’s look at the other extreme. Ybarra raised about $35,000, but focused on community forums and debates. Though Jana Jones had experience working with education on the state level, Ybarra still won with about 5,000 votes. Did voters like her, or was it the R by her name?
This isn’t a Why-Should-Democrats-Bother post. But it’s been said before: Idaho liberals need to do some serious soul searching about their approach to campaigning on a statewide level. (And Republicans might start spending less on statewide seats after the primaries. Is all that money really needed?)
That said, Democrats had a net gain of one seat in the legislature, and came very close in other races. In the next several years, we might see a much bigger focus (and bigger investment) on those seats.
2. One factor in Ybarra’s win might be the people who were so fed up or unimpressed, they voted for neither candidate. Look at the vote totals. Ten thousand more votes were cast in the US Senate race. I chatted up Republican and independent politicos over the last two weeks. Many voted for Jana Jones or left the race blank altogether.
3. Should Idaho media change the way we cover these races? That’s something to explore when we’ve all had some sleep.