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View Diary: Idaho: the Republican Hegemony Continues; Legislative Edition Pt. 1 (19 comments)

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  •  Overall, I'd divide the state into 3 parts (1+ / 0-)
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    1. Rural/New Deal/Old Idaho - in the past these areas were known for resource extraction, unionization and light industry. Now they're decrepit and dying with little future. In the past, these areas were staunchly Democratic, especially at the state level and gave us Senator Church, Cecil Andrus and Larry LaRocco. Right to work laws and dying industry killed this area's power and it's stalwart Democratic nature.
    2. Boise Metro Area- the emerging Idaho with the lion's share of new political power is this Idaho, which is socially moderate yet economically conservative. While these areas could be divided between suburbs and core gentrifying city neighborhoods, they're the same at heart in the sense that they're more concerned with education, infrastructure and urban planning. Something to keep in mind: Ada County voted more against a gay marriage ban than for Obama in 2006(!).
    3. Mormonland - Do I really need to explain this area? It's southeastern Idaho and it's ultra-conservative, bland and boring. Known for growing potatoes and the Snake River Valley. Even Utah's Mormons are weirded out by this area's fiercely backwards social norms. Mormon Democratic candidates do well here at the state level.

    •  Mormonland. (0+ / 0-)

        Is that not the location of Napoleon Dynamite? Students for a New American Politics!

      by redrelic17 on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 04:52:59 PM PDT

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      •  the 3 parts mix and overlap (1+ / 0-)
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        It's more complicated than 3 distinct parts, red.
        Most stuff in Idaho is more complicated than what's on the surface, and it's almost impossible to make good generalizations, as most of the state is very lightly populated.

        Socialist is generally correct in his divisions, but they were painted in fairly broad strokes.

        #1 as I understood Socialit's description, is N. Idaho. More specifically, Coeur d'Alene, the largest city there.

        But his description could include all of Northern Idaho, and some of Central Idaho, and Southern Idaho. The extraction industries happened in all of them.

        The timber industry was the last to go that hired a lot of people. N. Idaho and Central Idaho also had a lot of mining, and the N. Idaho mines were the last to go. Those mines also hired the most people. Logging and mining are still going on in Central Idaho, which is VERY lightly populated. Most of it is roadless wilderness.

        #2 Boise Metro has a lot of Mormon influence, even though it is not as highly Mormon as S. Idaho.
        Boise is, I think, a moderate/liberal enclave surrounded by more conservative smaller towns.
        Nampa and Caldwell, both growing cities could be considered part of the metroplex, but serve their own surrounding small towns, and each has it's own variations on the lib/mod/conservative mix.

        #3 The south is divided in half north to south, and there is relatively little interaction west to east. Each city in the south serves a much larger surrounding area.

        SW Idaho's center is Twin Falls, and it is very conservative and Mormon. Twin is the only large city in the western half of S. Idaho. It serves an area from the Nevada border on the south to half way to Boise on the north, and is closer to Nevada than Boise.

        Eastward from Twin is the great Arco Desert. it is largely a series of lava flows, and there are a few small towns in it. Some of it is as impassible as the mountains that cut Idaho in half. The Arco Desert divides S. Idaho as much as the mountains divide Boise from Couer d'Alene.

        The SE corridor is also Mormon, but the 2 largest cities in it, Pocatello and Idaho Falls are more similar to Boise than Rexburg, the northernmost of the major cities. In very general terms, the bottom-most part and the top-most part are the most conservative, and fit Socialist's description the best. This area is where Napoleon Dynamite was filmed.

        Pocatello is a college town, home of Idaho State University, and was a big railroad service center. It's traditionally more strongly union-favorable than the rest of the state, but that's changing. Pocatello serves the large area southward to the Utah border, and shares the Twin Falls service area.

        Idaho Falls is a burgeoning tech town, fueled by the nearby Idaho National Lab. This federal lab was initially a nuclear testing labratory; it pioneered the reactor designs that were used for electric power reactors, and developed the safety tests used with them. Over the past 25 years, the lab branched out to other forms of energy production, and has become a seeding agency for smaller private spin-off engineering and design companies. It's more conservative than Pocatello but more liberal than the surrounding small towns it serves. Idaho Falls service area extends in a 100 mile circle, from Jackson Hole to the east, Montana to the north, Arco and the Arco desert to the west, and extends and shares the area to the south with Pocatello.

        Rexburg has grown drastically over the past 15 years. It's also a college town, but the college is Mormon- for many decades, Ricks College was a 2-year Mormon school, but as Brigham Young University in Provo ran out of room, the church re-named Ricks to BYU-Idaho and turned it into a 4 year college. All the kids who couldn't get into BYU went to Rexburg. For Mormons, a BYU degree is like an Ivy League degree is. This city is very conservative, and perfectly fits Socialist's description. Rexburg is just beginning as a service area. The population grew over 35% in 10 years.

        Interestingly, all of the Democratic candidates for Governor have come from the South for quite a while. The last came from Twin, a candidate who ran twice came from I.F., and the one before that came from Rexburg.

        Southern Idaho has also produced all the Democratic governors of Idaho during the last half of the 20th century. Andrus, a 4-term Gov., and Evans, a 2-term Gov. are both from S. Idaho. Lt. Gov. Echohawk, the last Democrat to hold the position, is also from the south.

        In contrast, all the Republican Governors of the past couple of decades have come from the Boise area. Kempthorne was a former mayor, Batt came from the Caldwell area, and Otter also came from Caldwell.

        The solid Repub majority is a relatively new phenomenon that began in the early 90's. Before then, Idaho was a majority Repub state, but had a strong Democratic minority, and most of the Governors were Democrats.

        Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

        by Idaho07 on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 01:09:36 PM PDT

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