The home state of Larry Craig, Napoleon Dynamite, and the undefeated 2006 Boise State Broncos may not be the top prize at stake on February 5. But given that Idaho is one of the reddest states in the country, it should provide a test of how well the Democratic candidates can compete in normally hostile territory. (The Republicans will select their delegates in a June primary.)
Delegates: 23 (18 at stake in caucuses; 5 superdelegates).
Format: Idaho does not register voters by party, so the caucuses are open--any registered voter in the state may participate. One caucus will be held in each of the state's 44 counties, some of which have no more than a few thousand residents (and mostly Republicans at that). Six delegates will be allocated proportionally based on the results in each of the state's two congressional districts; six more delegates will be allocated proportionally based on the statewide result. The viability threshold for receiving a delegate is 15 percent.
Fundraising: Obama has outraised Clinton in the state, $42,000 to $27,000.
Demographics: Idaho is overwhelmingly white--it's the second least-black state in the nation, behind Montana. There are a growing number of Latinos (nearly 10 percent of the state), but still not enough to make much of a difference in the caucuses. Idaho's population is slightly younger than that of the nation at large, but young voters have traditionally not participated in large numbers in past nominating contests.
Key Endorsements: Barack Obama has the support of the state's Democratic establishment, to the extent that one exists. Of the 26 Democrats in the state legislature, 19 have endorsed Obama, as has Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. The state's largest newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, has not yet endorsed--If it does, that could sway a few votes.
Analysis: Though no polls have been taken, Obama seems like the odds-on favorite to win. He did very well in the non-Las Vegas portion of the Nevada vote, a region in many respects similar to Idaho. Obama visited Boise on Saturday, drawing a crowd of 15,000, and has four offices in the state. Hillary has none, though she has reportedly dispatched Bill Clinton to make calls to key Idaho Democrats. Boise State political scientist Gary Moncrief reports a high level of enthusiasm for Obama among Democratic activists. "I'd be very surprised if he doesn't do well here," Moncrief says.
For more information: Check out the Idaho Statesman’s authoritative politics blog, as well as 43rd State Blues, the center of Idaho’s liberal blogosphere, and the Ridenbaugh Press, which focuses on Idaho and other Pacific Northwest states.
Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.