UPDATED, 5 p.m. Sept. 25, noting 1960 was likely highest Idaho turnout ever.
Despite tepid contests for Idaho's two House seats, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is predicting solid turnout on Nov. 6, largely because of GOP nominee Mitt Romney's popularity.
"There aren't any realistically competitive congressional races and there's no U.S. Senate race, so it's all on the presidential race," said Ysursa, a Republican. "I think it's going to be a good turnout, 75 (percent) to 80 percent statewide. Mr. Romney should very strong here."
Romney held rallies in Boise and Idaho Falls shortly before the first-ever Idaho GOP presidential caucus in March. Romney won all 32 delegates, even though Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich made Idaho stops.
Altogether, Romney's appeared in the Gem State five times, holding five fundraisers and two rallies. His wife, Anne, makes her first campaign trip to Idaho Thursday for a high-dollar fundraiser Sept. 27 in Meridian.
Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day.
Idaho's record turnout was probably in 1960, said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, when 83.3 percent of registered voters voted in the Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy presidential race. Records before 1960 are sketchy, but that's the highest turnout Ysursa can verify.
In that watershed contest, Idaho led the nation in turnout, with 79.7 percent of the voting-age population casting ballots, Ysrusa said.
Turnout was 80.9 percent of registered voters in 1964, 80.2 percent in 1968 and 80.1 percent in 1972.
The high mark among elections chronicled on Ysursa's website, which date from 1980, was 80.5 percent in 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush and Idaho had two hot races for open congressional seats. Republican Dirk Kempthorne was elected to the Senate over then-Democratic Congressman Richard Stallings and Republican Mike Crapo defeated Democratic State Controller J.D. Williams in the 2nd Congressional District.
Other notable figures for turnout among Idaho registered voters in presidential years: 1980, Ronald Reagan vs. President Jimmy Carter, 76.8 percent; 2000, George W. Bush vs. Al Gore, 71 percent; 2004, President Bush vs. John Kerry, 76.8 percent; 2008, John McCain vs. Barack Obama, 77.5 percent.
In 2012, GOP Sens. Crapo and Jim Risch aren't on the ballot; Risch is up in 2014, Crapo in 2016.
Judging by the campaign finances, a historical predictor of Election Day results, the two Democratic U.S. House candidates are running uphill in one of the most reliably red states in the nation.
First District Republican Rep. Raul Labrador raised about $547,000 through June 30, compared to just $37,000 for first-time Democratic candidate Jimmy Farris. Second District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson, seeking his eighth two-year term, had raised about $956,000, while Democratic state Sen. Nicole LeFavour had collected $156,000.
In recognition of Voter Registration Day, volunteers are registering voters on the Boise State campus today.
The last day to pre-register is Oct. 12 and completed voter registration cards must be postmarked by that date. Idaho also allows same-day registration on Election Day. Early voting is
already under way.
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