Both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama are campaigning across the West this week concentrating on three states that could be critical to the election this fall.
But Ron Paul's Idaho results could tell us a lot about November.
The potential to get a westerner back in the White House should give McCain of Arizona a distinct advantage in a region that has long gone Republican. But Westerners weary of the top down decisions from Washington on natural gas development and nuclear waste, give Democrats a good chance to carry New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and even other states like Montana.
Idaho doesn’t fit into this mix for the simple reason we don’t have any oil and gas. Idaho ranchers haven’t had drilling forced down their throats in their back yards. And Idahoans have largely supported sending the nuclear waste from the Idaho National Laboratory to New Mexico and Nevada.
Obama has supported a compromise mining reform plan, which will help him especially in Nevada. Both back climate change legislation.
in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has worked with Las Vegas unions to give Democrats a 52,000 lead in registrations, according to the L.A. Times. Four years ago Republicans led by 12,000.
A good test of how well McCain might do across the region could come today in the Idaho Primary. If Ron Paul gets a high percent of GOP votes then the lack of excitement for McCain here could be a bellwether for the entire region.
We already know how well Obama did here, attracting more than 15,000 to Taco Bell Arena and record turnout at Democratic caucuses in February. But only the most optimistic Obama supporter believes that will translate to a victory here in November.
But if Paul does well a lot of Idaho Republicans might just not work so hard next fall. They may be joined by their compatriots across the region.