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What kind of political beliefs are newcomers bringing to Idaho? Survey says...

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 1/23/2022 Paul Schwedelson, The Idaho Statesman

Jan. 23—As more people move to Idaho, those already living here are figuring out how the extra people might change the state's feel.

One distinct trend, according to a new survey released Friday, is that newcomers identify as having more conservative political beliefs than those who have lived here longer.

The research was revealed in Boise State University's seventh annual Idaho Public Policy Survey. One thousand Idahoans were surveyed from Nov. 13-21. Four-fifths of the respondents said they've lived in Idaho for at least 10 years, while one-fifth of them moved to Idaho in the past decade. That's how the survey distinguishes between newcomers and long-time residents.

Among newcomers, 53% identified as conservative. Among long-timers, 49% did.

In terms of party affiliation, there was no significant difference between new and old. Thirty-six percent of recent arrivals said they're Republicans, compared with 38% of long-term residents. Democrats make up 16% of new arrivals and 13% of long-time residents.

Independents made up the largest group of both long-time residents and newcomers — 39% of long-time residents and 42% of newcomers.

Aside from political leanings, researchers found few significant demographic differences between the camps. Approximately half of both groups are currently employed, and roughly 25% of each group are retired.

"It's worth noting that it's hard to stereotype or generalize newcomers," Research Associate Lantz McGinnis-Brown said in an interview. "Even though they're similar ideologically to folks already living in the state, an Idaho County conservative might have a different view of what that conservatism looks like than a Twin Falls County conservative."

Fifty-six percent of Republicans surveyed believe the state is headed in the right direction, while 30% of Democrats think that.

The results mirror results from last year's Growth In The Treasure Valley report, also conducted by Boise State University but focused only on the Treasure Valley.

That survey showed 48% of long-time Valley residents are Republicans, compared with 52% of newcomers.

While the demographics of new and longtime Idahoans are similar, Vanessa Fry said that doesn't mean Idahoans want more of them. Fry is the interim director of the Idaho Policy Institute and a co-author of the new report.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they think the state is growing too fast.

A significant portion of people who have moved to Idaho from other states in recent years have come from California, Oregon and Washington. In every presidential election since 1992, those three states have each voted for the Democratic candidate.

But the research released Friday shows more Republicans are moving to Idaho than Democrats.

"People say, 'All the Californians are moving here,'" Fry said. "The biggest portion is Californians, but is that bad? Or good? What does that mean?"

Researchers said the sample of people surveyed was representative of the states' population geographically and demographically. The survey had a simple random sampling margin of error of 3.1%. The survey reached respondents by cell phone (43%), landline phone (17%), online (30%) and text message (10%).

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