Idaho voter registration records show that the Republican Party has attracted more than 80,000 newly affiliated voters this year, the Lewiston Tribune reports, a 27.4 increase and a figure that alone exceeds the total number of registered Democrats in the state. Idaho GOP officials are taking the increase as a sign that they can win close general election contests in legislative districts around the state, writes Tribune reporter Bill Spence, including Districts 5 and 6 in north-central Idaho. The party has opened field offices in Moscow and Lewiston.
“It shows that our base is energized and excited,” Idaho GOP Executive Director David Johnston told the Tribune. “More and more people are willing to associate themselves with the Republican brand.”
However, some observers question whether the registration increase alone indicates a change. Until a few years ago, Idaho voters didn’t need to register by party to vote in primary elections, as they’re now required to do to participate in the Republican primary. Rep. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, told Spence, “Pardon me if I’m a little suspicious of the numbers. Until you really dig into it and see who’s actually registered, it’s hard to tell what the data means.” She noted that even with the sharp increase in GOP registrations, nearly half the voters in her district remain unaffiliated.
Troy is in District 5, along with Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, and Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer. District 6 includes Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; Rep. Dan Rudolph, D-Lewiston, who’s not seeking re-election; and House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, who faces a rematch with Republican Mike Kingsley, whom Rusche defeated by 48 votes two years ago. Spence’s full report is online here(subscription required).
According to the latest report from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, there are currently 770,039 registered voters in Idaho. Ten percent – 77,212 – of those are registered Democrats; 49 percent – 378,404 – are registered Republicans; and 40 percent – 307,727 – are registered as unaffiliated with any party.