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VERIFY: No, people who move to Idaho aren't turning the state liberal

Data analyzed by KTVB shows that yes, there are more registered Democrats in Idaho in recent years, but the GOP has seen their party grow by more than 200,000 voters.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, but that population growth is not moving the needle towards the left on the state's political landscape - it's only cementing the Republican majority in the state.

Discourse in the comments section of social media posts on local politics can quickly turn to blaming newcomers for varying issues. 

One of the most common types of comments from Facebook users is that new Idahoans, people from California more specifically, are all liberal and are turning Idaho more Democratic.

KTVB set out to verify those claims by looking at data of registered voters and election results from the last four elections, including two presidential cycles and two elections for Idaho governor. 

However, the data doesn't support claims on social media that Idaho's politics are turning blue - it shows that Idaho is becoming even more conservative.

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Changes in registered Democratic and Republican voters

Analyzing the changes in the number of registered voters in Idaho helps track both the changes in Idaho's politics and the state's population growth. 

The data is collected by the Secretary of State's office, all available data can be found here. 

In Nov. 2013, the oldest data available, there were 740,265 total registered voters in Idaho. 239,710 of them registered as Republican, which is 32.4% of all voters in Idaho.

That same year, Democrats only made up 7.6% of registered voters with 56,024 people.

Jump to the 2016 presidential election, total registered voters grew to 813,218 people that November. 392,530, or 48.3% of total registered voters, were registered Republicans. Democrats only made up 10.6% with 86,493 registered voters.

The latest data from June 2019, Idaho had 856,511 registered voters, about 43,000 more than Nov. 2016. Republicans made up 50.8% with 435,486 people - a jump of about 18% and almost 200,000 people from Nov. 2013.

Registered Democrats grew to 108,607 voters, making up 12.7% of all registered voters in Idaho.

So yes, Idaho is seeing more Democrats become registered voters in recent years, about 52,600 more over a six-year span. But Republicans have seen their number of registered voters grow by nearly 200,000 during that same time.

Republicans' control of Idaho's political landscape can also be seen in the last four elections in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.

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Population growth isn't changing election trends

For election results, we're just looking at the governor's race and the presidential election, as they're the largest state-wide races in each of the elections analyzed.

In 2012, about 666,300 people, a turnout of 74.34% of registered voters, voted in the presidential election between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Romney beat Obama by 208,124 votes and won 64.5% of the vote in Idaho.

The governor's race in 2014 was closer, with Gov. Butch Otter beating Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff by 69,849 votes. Otter won the election with 53.5% of the vote to Balukoff's 38.6%.

Voter turnout was down significantly in 2014, compared to 2012. Only 56.1% of eligible voters came out on election day.

Turnout rebounded in the 2016 presidential election between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's nominee. 75.87% of eligible Idaho voters turned out on election day, giving Trump a landslide victory. Trump won 59.2% of the vote in Idaho, beating Clinton by 219,290 votes - she only received 189,765 votes in Idaho.

Last November's election was another sweeping election win for Republicans as then-Lt. Gov. Brad Little beat Democratic challenger Paulette Jordan with 59.8% of the win, a plurality of 130,530 votes.

Comparing the 2018 and 2014 governor's race highlights how many more people are voting for Republicans as Little received 126,256 more votes than Otter did. 

While more Democrats did vote in 2018 than 2012, their nominee lost by a larger margin of the vote in Idaho. Furthermore, far more new registered Republican voters came out to vote in 2018 than in 2012.

All election results and data were compiled by the Secretary of State's office and that information can be found here.

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No, Idaho's population growth is not turning the state's politics more liberal or blue.

Between data on registered voters and election results, the GOP's majority is growing at a much faster rate than the Idaho Democratic Party and Republicans are winning elections by larger margins now than they did years ago.

It is important to note that the Idaho GOP has a closed primary system where only voters registered with the party can vote in their primaries. This does invite independent or liberal voters to register as Republican so they can participate in the GOP primaries.

In Nov. 2013, 38.2% of registered voters identified as Republican, while registered Democrats made up 7.6% of voters. 

Almost six years later, Republicans now have 50.8% of total registered voters in Idaho, an increase of 12.6%. The number of registered Democrats this year is now at 12.7%, up by 5.1% from 2013.

The number of registered Republicans in Idaho has grown by over 206,000 in the last six years and there are only about 52,000 more registered Democrats in Idaho.

These changes show that the state's population growth is only leading to an increasingly Republican-leaning Idaho.

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