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The Reddening of Idaho

Idaho is primed to be a fortress of conservative ideology.

The radical left will deny it all day long – the notion that people leave their homes and seek a safe space from deep blue politics – but facts are facts. People move for various reasons: school, jobs, family, weather, etc. Now add to that list living in a crazy, upside-down state full of progressive politics and ideals, and you have the perfect conditions to inspire an exodus. The state of Washington is the latest to purge its Republican population. And where do they seem to be heading? That would be to Idaho.

The Evergreen State now joins New York, California, Oregon, and the Windy City in shedding red residents. The difference this time, however, is that Washington admits it. The Seattle Times ruffled the feathers of its leftist brethren by publishing a study of facts – yes, facts – about the new trend:

“[T]here’s solid evidence that some people really are migrating over partisanship. In Washington, we don’t register by party – everybody is an independent voter. In Idaho, you generally have to affiliate with a party to vote in the primaries, so party choice is right on the government’s registration form. The political makeup of those who have moved to Idaho is eye-opening. It is, as the Idaho Capital Sun news site called it, a ‘Republican fever dream.'”

The Myth, the Legend, Idaho

GettyImages-1277757251 moving

(Photo by: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Not every mass fleeing of a blue state benefits the new location of choice. Arizona, once a stronghold of traditional, conservative values, has turned a putrid shade of mauve thanks to the flow of folks out of the Golden State. California has also angered the Montanans to the point that the state’s first advice to newbies is to immediately change the vehicle’s license plate to avoid inspiring road rage in locals.

Yet, for whatever reasons, Republicans are arriving in Idaho. According to Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane, 65% of the newbies registering vehicles and applying for driver’s licenses declare Republican status. No Democrat will win in that state anytime soon. But the converse is also true: No Republican will rise in Washington to win a statewide race.

“Democrats want to live in places with artistic culture and craft breweries, and Republicans want to move to places where they can have a big yard,” said Ryan Strickler, a political scientist at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Apparently, Idaho falls short on culture. Or maybe that kind of polarizing thinking is easily adopted by progressives attempting to explain why people are moving far, far away from big-city crime, taxes, and politics.

Remember Mike McCarter, who spearheaded the campaign for eastern Oregon to become the west of Idaho? No one paid much attention until COVID-19 – and he didn’t mind saying I told you so:

“Then it was like, ‘Oh, they can shut down any church, and they can shut down my kids’ school?’ If state-level government has that much power, you’d better be sure it reflects your values and not someone else’s values that are forced on you.”

Red and Blue Lure Friendlies

Both deep red and deep blue states add to the phenomena described in Bill Bishop’s best-seller, The Big Sort, of people permissibly polarizing themselves by political ideology. The book was referenced throughout the 2008 presidential contest between the late Sen. John McCain and Barack Obama. Bishop posited:

“We have built a country where everyone can choose the neighbors (and church and news shows) most compatible with his or her lifestyle and beliefs. And we are living with the consequences of this segregation by way of life: pockets of like-minded citizens that have become so ideologically inbred that we don’t know, can’t understand, and can barely conceive of ‘those people’ who live just a few miles away.”

It’s nothing so radically new, per se. But it is more blatant and in your face that folks are changing states to be with like-minded friends and neighbors. For goodness’ sake, states are advertising to targeted populations. New York City Mayor Eric Adams sent an open invitation to the LGBTQ+ community. Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill allowing parents access to their child’s school curriculum. No one left for the Big Apple – it’s nice to visit, but who wants all the crime, illegal alien issues, and cold weather?

But most recent kudos must be extended to the realtors of Idaho who have their sights set on Republicans. A plethora of ads inviting people to pick up a phone and see what Washington State money can buy in Idaho: great neighbors, great opportunity, and the ability to express a political ideology without fear of retribution.

For example, “Escape liberal hell” from a Boise, Idaho, real estate agent. Another listing: “Here are seven reasons conservatives flock to Idaho,” and a dire warning, possibly from a local militia: “Time is not on your side; flee the city NOW before the coming collapse!”

America is sitting on the largest political divide since the Civil War. And yes, this is a free country, and everyone has the same right to live where they want and pursue happiness. But we all must remember that this is the United States of America – once Election Day comes and passes, we are supposed to be on the same team.

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