Well, I'm not surprised that before the weekend was over I'd hear a refrain I've heard before: in the Congressional District 1 race, the votes in north Idaho just aren't important. The only important votes are in Ada and Canyon counties. That really kind of irks me. Boundary County may not be statistically significant when compared to the Ada County or even Canyon county vote. But remember the words are "north Idaho." I guess one could argue over where north Idaho begins and ends, but I think you'd find that people in north Idaho are not so unaware.
So let's look at some numbers. In the last General Election in 2006, Larry Grant received 31,748 votes in Ada county and 16,459 votes in Canyon county, for a total of 48,207 votes. Now, let's put that against just the five northernmost counties: in Benewah, 1,131 votes; Bonner, 6,475 votes; Boundary, 1,276 votes; Kootenai, 15,874 votes; and Shoshone, 3,854 votes, for a total of 28,610 votes. Now that beats Canyon county and brings it close to Ada county. And if we add the other northern counties: Clearwater, 1,367; Idaho, 2,405; Latah, 7,087; and Nez Perce, 6,576, for a total of 17, 435 votes, and add that to the 28,610, we get 46,045 votes in north Idaho for Larry Grant. That is not a significant statistical difference from the 48,207 "important" votes that Ada and Canyon counties received.
It's true that many candidates find it difficult to travel all the way to Bonners Ferry, although they do manage to make it up to Sandpoint. We're kind of forgiving about that and we do make the almost one hour trek down to Sandpoint for those purposes. Heck, some of us even work in Bonner and Kootenai counties. But don't say that our vote doesn't count, because the numbers just don't add up.
Not only that, but we have had our own problems with growth and development over the past several years, especially since Sandoint was named, in several different prominent magazines, as one of the best places to live in the U.S. Couple that with property taxes, the second and out-of-state homes in our counties for which we receive no property taxes, and the 75% of federal and state owned land in Boundary County, and our problems are in many ways no different than the rest of the state. So our vote is just as important as that of the urban sprawl areas like Ada county!
Finally, if what this really happens to be about is who can sink the most money into this race, I think that the voters in District 1, like voters most everywhere in Idaho, are much more impressed with a personal knock on the door than an expense of money that most people do not have. Indeed, if money could buy a race, then Al Blinken would be a senator now. What I do know, however, is this: the north Idaho vote is important and we in the north know that. And that vote will be significant in the coming elections.
The Republican stronghold on north Idaho has lasted almost thirty years, but change is in the air. Indeed, today a Republican stopped by the business of our local Democratic co-chair and asked for an Obama bumper sticker. Oh yeah, do I feel good now!