After some number crunching on the Idaho Governor’s election there appears to be some patterns that help explain the shape of the Governor Otter reelection margin and it’s location. We earlier pointed out that Governor Otter seemed to benefit more among the counties that showed a larger increase in voter turnout rates.
While post-election analysis concluded Keith Allred’s Magic Valley and eastern Idaho strategy a bust there are indications of very minor shifts in voter behavior buried in the data. These minor shifts are just that, minor, and they may not mean all that much. Yes, Allred did do worse than Jerry Brady four years prior in percentage of vote in almost all counties, but there were a few exceptions in eastern Idaho. And it seems that Allred’s LDS church affiliation may have been a factor, however slight, in those exceptions.
Based on LDS membership by county (data downloaded from the Association of Religion Data Archives and can be found at this page at thearda.com) expressed as LDS percent of population by county, the plot below compares it to county level election results for Governor Otter.
The above chart shows that Gov. Otter saw his best increases in percent of vote in counties with low percentage LDS membership. It should be noted that this is a measure of percent change in performance and many counties where Otter made the greatest gains were in Democratic leaning counties. The most Republican counties would not have as much potential for growth because he already was harvesting a healthy majority of the vote. The counties with low LDS membership are also those found more predominantly in the 1st Congressional District, which also had more counties show an increase in voter turnout due to the contested race for Congress. Nonetheless the Governor did the best in the counties with less than 10 percent LDS population. In the heavily LDS counties Otter performed slightly worse than in 2006, and lost some ground (with Oneida County a sole exception).
While Gov. Otter’s percent of vote decreased, it increased for Allred in the higher percentage LDS counties. We compare the Allred percent of vote to that earned by Jerry Brady four years prior. There were only five out of 44 counties where Allred’s percent of the vote was higher than Brady’s and those five counties are about 70 percent or more LDS (Oneida County, again an exception).