Idaho Reports analysis: Jordan results show GOP benefitted from record turnout
By Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
Note: 2020 election results used in this analysis are unofficial. State law requires that results be canvassed and certified by counties within 10 days of the general election (Nov. 13) and by the state within 15 days (Nov. 18).
The 2020 general election saw remarkably high turnout in Idaho, with over 1 million registered voters in the state for the first time. Final numbers are a moving target until election day registrations are tallied and votes are canvassed and certified, but the Secretary of State’s office estimates that roughly 870,000 ballots were cast this year with turnout at about 85 percent of registered voters.
For comparison, the highest general election turnouts in the last 40 years were 80.46 percent in 1992; 77.3 percent in 2008; 76.79 percent in 2004; and 76.77 percent in 1980.
Democratic candidate Paulette Jordan has competed in statewide elections two cycles in a row. Comparing the results between her runs for governor in 2018 and for U.S. Senate in 2020 reveals that while Jordan earned additional votes in nearly every county this year, she received a smaller percentage of the total votes cast.
That points to increased voter turnout across the state generally benefitting Republican candidates.
Jordan earned more individual votes this election than in 2018 in every county but Camas (-1 vote) and Clark (-5 votes). Even with those gains, she received a smaller share of total votes in every county but Adams (a distant outlier).
|Individual votes||Share of total|
Even in the counties with the largest individual vote gains for Jordan, she still received a smaller percentage of the total votes cast.
|County||2018 Governor||2020 Senate||Individual votes||Share of total|
In the counties where Jordan won her largest percentages in the Senate race against Jim Risch, she was not able to improve on results from the governor race against Brad Little.
|County||2018 Governor||2020 Senate||Change|
While Democrats may have made inroads with individual Idaho voters this election cycle, it was not enough to combat Republican enthusiasm in the deeply red state during a record-breaking presidential year.
As Idaho Reports has covered in previous blog posts this week, Republicans flipped two seats in the Idaho House and Democrat David Nelson narrowly defended his seat in the Idaho Senate.
Watch this week’s episode of Idaho Reports for more information on turnout with Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.