The main reason people say they live in Idaho is family and quality of life, but for some, it’s politics.
That’s according to the 2022 Boise State University Public Policy Survey. The survey of 1,000 Idaho residents found that 5.4% of respondents said the political climate was their main reason for being in the state, before factors such as the cost of living, school or taxes.
It might not sound like much (about 45% said “family”), but the political climate was the fifth most popular response. “People find Idaho’s political culture attractive,” said Jacqueline Kettler, associate professor of political science at Boise State.
Republicans hold all statewide positions and the vast majority in the state legislature, and former President Donald Trump won Idaho in 2020 with nearly 64%. The state is such a conservative beacon in the area that a group of conservative rural Oregonians are trying to join in.
“Historically, I didn’t understand that a lot of people move to another country for political reasons, that’s something we’re starting to see people saying,” Kettler said.
Idahoans are more politically active than the average American. The Boise State survey found that 22% had donated money to a cause or political party in the past year, eight points higher than the national level, 32% had contacted a public official in the past year, nine points higher than the national level.
“There were a lot of really high-profile issues in the legislative session last year, education being one of them, the discussions around funding critical race theory, and public education in general, but we also had a lot of focus on things like COVID vaccine mandates and concealment,” Kettler said.
The 2022 legislative session opened in Idaho earlier this month, and the most important issue voters want lawmakers to address is education, according to the poll. More than a quarter said they would like the state to use a $1.5 trillion surplus to raise teacher salaries.
In his State of the State address, Idaho Governor Brad Little called education one of his two most important priorities, along with infrastructure. He also requested $47 million in ongoing funding for literacy programs and $50 million in grants to parents for computers, tutoring, and other student needs.
Idaho grew 2.9% last year, the fastest growth rate in the country, and the population looks ripped off. A Boise state survey found that 71% think Idaho is growing too fast, but nearly 60% think Idaho should continue to hire high-paying companies for the state, even if it means population growth.
“We want growth and the way it can provide benefits and help us move forward, but at the same time, we are really struggling with the consequences of rapid growth,” Kettler said.
The survey was conducted November 13-21, 2021 among 1,000 adults living in Idaho.