By: Samuel Wonacott
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- Idaho state legislative incumbents more likely to face primary challengers compared to recent years
- President Joe Biden’s approval at 41%, congressional approval at 23%
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Idaho state legislative incumbents more likely to face primary challengers compared to recent years
More state legislative incumbents are facing primary challenges in Idaho this year than at any point since at least 2014. Seventy-five incumbents are seeking re-election this year, 61.3% of whom (46) are running in contested primaries. From 2014 to 2020, the percentage of incumbents in contested primaries hovered at around half that rate ranging from 32 to 34%.
Of those 46 incumbents in contested primaries, 45 are Republicans, and one—Rep. James Ruchti—is a Democrat.
Redistricting is part of the reason why there are more primaries this year. When states redraw district lines, they can change so that incumbents who previously represented one district now live within the district lines of another. This can result in incumbents challenging other incumbents in contested primaries or general elections if they choose to seek re-election.
There are four such incumbent vs. incumbent primaries this year:
- House District 9B: Rep. Scott Syme (R), first elected to District 11A in 2016, will face Rep. Judy Boyle (R), first elected in 2008.
- House District 22A: Rep. Greg Ferch (R), first elected to District 21B in 2020, will face Rep. John Vander Woude (R), first elected in 2010.
- Senate District 9: Sen. Jim Rice (R), first elected to District 8 in 2012, will face Sen. Abby Lee (R), first elected in 2014. Two other candidates are running in this primary.
- Senate District 14: Sen. Steven Thayn (R), first elected to District 8 in 2012, will face Sen. C. Scott Grow (R), first appointed in 2018. One other candidate is running in this primary.
For the purposes of our analysis, all eight of these incumbents are considered incumbents in contested primaries.
Looking beyond incumbents in contested primaries, the total number of primaries also increased this year to its highest level compared to previous cycles, with Republican contests entirely driving the increase.
These figures come from Ballotpedia’s analysis of post-filing deadline competitiveness statistics. Idaho’s filing deadline for state and congressional candidates was March 11.
Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:
- Of the 105 seats up for election, 32.3% are open, meaning no incumbent is in the running. This is the largest percentage of open seats since at least 2014. Newcomers are guaranteed to win these open seats, meaning at least one-third of the Idaho Legislature will be in the 2023 legislative session.
- Republicans are running for all 105 seats in the state House and Senate for the first time since at least 2014. Democrats are running for 46 seats, the lowest number in that same time span. This means Republican candidates are effectively guaranteed to win legislative majorities due to a lack of major party competition.
- Overall, 259 major party candidates—212 Republicans and 47 Democrats—filed to run for the state legislature. This equals 2.5 candidates per seat, the most since at least 2014.
Republicans currently hold a 28-7 majority in the state Senate and a 58-12 majority in the state House. With a Republican governor, Idaho is one of 23 Republican trifectas.
Idaho’s legislative primaries are scheduled for May 17.
Click the link below to read more of our research on primary election competitiveness.
President Joe Biden’s approval at 41%, congressional approval at 23%
Recent approval polling averages show President Biden one percentage point up from his lowest-ever approval rating. Polling averages also show the U.S. Congress maintained a rating above 20% through March.
Our polling index showed Biden at 41% approval and 53% disapproval on March 31. At this time last month, Biden’s approval rating was also 41%. Biden’s highest approval rating was 55% on May 26, 2021. His lowest rating was 40% on Feb. 18, 2022.
Congress was at 23% approval and 63% disapproval. At this time last month, its approval rating was 22%. Congress’ highest approval rating received during Biden’s term was 36% on July 16, 2021. It’s lowest was 14% on Jan. 26, 2022.
Our polling index averages polls conducted over the last thirty days to calculate presidential and congressional approval ratings. The data is updated daily as new polling results are published.