Saying Romney will drive interest, Ysursa predicts Idaho turnout as high as 80 percent

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.

You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.

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So Ysursa,

if you are so sure about the outcome of the Idaho elections, just cancel them and hand Romney the 4 electoral votes and save the state some money.

My thought

exactly but I guess the a big turn out could effect some of the other issues on the ballot.

Idaho must be the exception

Romney doesn't seem to be that popular (even within his own Republican party). Guess Idaho just loves all Republicans.


No one cares about the Idaho delegates in an electoin that obviously will go to Romney.

The turnout will be driven by the School Reform Initiative.Betsy got it right:

"BOISE – The hottest election issue of the season in Idaho – possible repeal of the state’s controversial new school reform laws..."

What's wrong with you Popkey that you would repeat Ysursa's short-sightedness, and not pick up on the real reason voters will turn out this year?

You're right: Election law votes will also boost turnout

That was my omission. My apologies.

Dan Popkey


My family isn't rich enough for Mittens to care about us...his only concern is for the rich of the rich...having a prez who views me as barely a second class citizen because I am female (non-LDS..even worse) doesn't thrill me either.


And would rather risk it with a moderate Democrat. Preferably with a mixed Congress so nothing crazy gets through.

My greater concern is the next Supreme Court nominees. And "what's for lunch"?

High Water Mark

In 1960 nearly 83 percent of registered voters in Idaho voted in the general election. There were 362,704 registered voters and 300,450 votes were cast in the Kennedy v. Nixon race = 82.8%. Idaho turnout that year was the highest in the nation, as measured as a percent of voting age population.

Thanks, Bernard -- I'm checking with Ysursa to get straight dope

I'll update as soon as I hear from him or his office.

Dan Popkey

Correct figure is actually 83.3 percent for 1960

Again, thanks, Bernard. I checked with Ysrusa and with Boyd Martin's tome on voting from 1890 to 1974, "Idaho Voting Trends." Both say the figure was 83.3 percent of registered voters.

Ysursa says he believes Idaho turnout was No. 1 in 1960, but can't prove it. He noted that 79 percent of voting-age population voted in Idaho that year, an "astronomical" figure.

Richard Nixon bested John F. Kennedy in Idaho, 54 percent to 46 percent.

I've revised the post above.

Dan Popkey

Idaho WAS No. 1 in USA in 1960 turnout

79.7 percent of Idaho's voting-age population cast ballots in 1960, Ysrusa said, making the Gem State No. 1 nationwide.

Dan Popkey

I think S. Phila was 104%

My Unle Frankie voted for Kennedy 23 times.

A true Patriot, to be sure ;-)


You fry wants with that?

I respect Mr. Ysursa but disagree on turnout.

51% at best. I feel certain the threats of non-voting are wholly possible. Disinterest and burnout are a real problem.


You fry wants with that?