By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
If you’ve read any election postmortems, you saw this: Despite national press attention, Paulette Jordan got roughly the same percentage of votes as Democratic governor candidate AJ Balukoff did four years ago.
And that’s true. However, turnout was so high, Jordan ended up getting nearly the same number of votes — 231,065 — as Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter did that year, at 235,405. Balukoff, meanwhile, had 169,556 votes.
What’s more, lieutenant governor candidate Kristin Collum got more votes than Otter did, at 240,292. Superintendent candidate Cindy Wilson got 288,666 votes, a new record for an Idaho Democratic statewide candidate. Gov. Cecil Andrus won his 1990 election with 217,801 votes — though Idaho’s population has almost doubled since then.
So yes, percentages matter. That’s how candidates win. But Idaho politics isn’t just about Tuesday’s vote, and it’s not just about these three candidates. It’s about the long game. It’s about the legislative and county seats Democrats picked up around the state on Tuesday.
If the Idaho Democratic Party can hang onto that momentum, they won’t flip the entire state blue, but they may have more sway in local and legislative races.