I've been arguing for months and months that something has been afoot in Idaho. Further evidence of that comes from FEC filings by the presidential campaigns. Via New West, the Statesman's editorial page editor Kevin Richert blogs about the numbers.
Through June 30, Idahoans gave $375,586 to Barack Obama, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee. Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain received $228,938.
Statewide, Mitt Romney — the preferred candidate of most leading Idaho Republicans — raised more than Obama and McCain combined. But the fact remains that Obama has raised 64 percent more than McCain in Idaho, with four months left in the election.
For the month of June, Obama raised $57,880 in Idaho. McCain raised $40,995. Even with Romney out of the picture as a presidential candidate, McCain trailed in fundraising in one of America's most Republican states.
Here's the tidbit most interesting for Idaho politics-watchers:
In the "836" zip codes — including heavily Republican Nampa, Meridian and Eagle — Obama has raised $43,156 to McCain's $29,947. Among GOP candidates, McCain trailed not only Romney but Ron Paul.
This is the fastest growing part of the state and the most politically frustrating. As the population from bluing Boise expands west to these suburbs, Dems have been hoping that it would mean a breakdown in the Republican stranglehold on the area. That hasn't happened yet, but the Ron Paul factor and the fracturing of the state Republican party that I've been writing about for the last eight months, and that Richert blogs about in his post, seems to be centered in this part of the state.
Which holds some encouragement for both Democrats running here: Walt Minnick in ID-01, which encompasses this part of the state, and Larry LaRocco for Senate. First, the simple that Obama is leading in fundraising in the whole state shows that the part of the population that's engaged and paying attention right now is much more motivated for change in the form of the Democratic ticket. The enthusiasm in the state right now is all on the Democrats' side.
Minnick has the added benefit of a Sali financial meltdown. The latest is that Sali filed his FEC report 10 days late, shows anemic numbers, an existing and ongoing substantial debt, and some very funny numbers, including a $2,000 contribution from a PAC that apparently doesn't exist. The Sali campaign can definitely be put in the "struggling" column.
On the Senate front, the Paul factor plays out in the candidacy of Independent Rex Rammell, the elk rancher who has an eduring hate-on for Republican candidate Risch and a personal fortune to propel his run. Given the disaffection so many Idaho Republicans are having with their state party and the candidate at the top of their ticket, another third party candidate in the form of an ultra-conservative Mormon like Rammell could pull a sizable margin from Risch.
While, as Richert points out, Obama is pretty unlikely to win the state's four electoral votes in November, the impact of his run and the internal divisions in the Republican party could make this the year the stars weirdly align for Idaho's Democrats. All this should be enough to make Obama consider another stop in the Gem State--preferably in that core Republican part of the state that's behind him financially--on one of his Western states swings.