Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Race of the Day- Idaho U.S. Senate

Idaho U.S. Senate

90 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Many looked at gains made by Democrats across the country in House races during the 2018 midterms and described what occurred a "blue wave." That is only party true though. The blue wave met a "red wall" in the conservative parts of the country and this was especially proven by the fact that with the map being what it was that year, Republicans actually added to their U.S. Senate majority.

This year, the map is different and Republicans seemingly have nowhere to go but down in terms of their numbers, but they probably do not need to worry too much about Idaho. The most optimistic of Democrats claim that this race might be competitive and they have a strong candidate, but I have yet to see any actual evidence of that. The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump carried Idaho four years ago by 32 points. Even if his margin were to fall by half in the state, which is unlikely, there still would theoretically be coattails. Idaho is very Republican. Democrats have not elected a Senator from Idaho since the Watergate year of 1974 and the reelection of an influential incumbent. Even the time for Frank Church in office though came in 1980 when he went down in the Reagan landslide.

Incumbent Jim Risch is in a better position, even if Trump loses badly nationwide. He is seeking his third term in the upper chamber, and before that held state office since 2002, mostly as Lt. Governor, but also in a stint as the acting Governor. Earlier in his career, Risch had lost a couple legislative races, but he seems entrenched in the Senate and serves as the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. For the most part, he avoids being a polarizing figure and even his colleagues on the other side of the aisle have expressed respect for his intellect.

His opponent this year easily won the Democrats' primary in June with 86 percent of the vote. Still just 40 years old, former State Representative Paulette Jordan easily won what was  considered competitive primary for Governor in 2018, as the most liberal candidate. Political watchers across the nation began to wonder if she was the latest of Idaho Democrat nominees who might become the nation's first Native American Governor. Instead, she lost the open office general election by 22 points and an Oklahoma Republican officially was elected the first Native American Governor that year instead.

We can perhaps pay attention to see if there is a reason to consider this contest as more competitive, but for now, it seems pretty obvious that Risch is in a very good position and that his opponent is likely too far to the left to succeed in a statewide general election.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

3 D (1 Safe, 2 Lean) 
6 R (2 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

38 Democrats (35 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Lean)
36 Republicans (30 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Lean, 1 Tossup)


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