Idaho 1st District
The 1st District of Idaho stretches from the Nevada border to Canada and includes some of usually Republican Boise and all of the panhandle, which is historically Democratic but more recently has been leaning Republican. It encompasses two of Idaho’s big growth areas, the western suburbs of Boise and the Coeur d’Alene area in Kootenai County. High-tech businesses and tourism have fueled the economy. Boise is home to Micron Technology, which has led the nation in patents. And in 2007, Forbes named Boise the third-best city in the country for business, citing the region’s low unemployment rate. In Nampa—whose population nearly doubled in the 1990s, allowing it to replace Pocatello as Idaho’s second-largest city—commercial developers have taken over land that not long ago grew wheat and alfalfa. Subdivisions are being constructed in nearby Meridian, the fastest-growing city in Idaho, with 23,000 new residents since 2000. Valley County, just north of Boise, has also seen a spike in growth, with a 6% increase in population.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The growth is turning these once-rural areas into urban centers, but that has reinforced rather than altered the political landscape. Newcomers routinely say they moved to conservative Idaho to “escape” from places like California. Some old-timers worry that their communities may become new versions of San Jose or Orange County. Politically, the 1st District is overwhelmingly Republican. Kootenai County, once a Democratic stronghold, is now as likely to cast as many Republican votes as conservative Canyon County. Northern mining counties were once the district’s Democratic base; now it is the university town of Moscow in Latah County, one of only two in Idaho to vote against a 2006 constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Every county in the district voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. In 2008, Latah County went for Democrat Barack Obama, but the district as a whole voted for Republican John McCain, giving him 62%.