Idaho, with just four electoral votes, might not be a bellwether in this (or any) presidential election. But this year, it is leading all other states in one telling category: voter pessimism.
This week’s massive Washington Post/Survey Monkey poll surveyed 74,000 voters nationwide on the presidential election. Its findings showed why Hillary Clinton holds the advantage over Donald Trump. But it also found pessimism about the election in every state.
The Post asked: “How much, if at all, do you think the result of this year's presidential election will reduce political divisions within the country?” In Idaho, 79 percent of respondents, or four out of five, answered “not much” or “not at all.” That was tops in the nation. Vermont, Washington, Colorado, and Minnesota followed.
“Nobody in the state likes Hillary Clinton, not even the Democrats. We saw that in the caucuses. Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly here,” said Jasper LiCalzi, professor of political economy at the College of Idaho. “Then you look at Trump and look at the primary and Trump did very poorly here. Ted Cruz did much better. When it came to the primaries and caucuses Idaho didn’t support either one of them. And when push comes to shove, they dislike Hillary more than they dislike Trump.”
At the opposite end, Mississippi registered the most optimism, or more accurately, the least pessimism: More than half of Mississippians polled, 54 percent, found no reason to think the election will change anything. They were followed by South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Hawaii.
Nationally, the average of those who said the election outcome would produce little or no change was 68 percent.
“The general mood is that people are not optimistic about either of these presidential candidates,” said Corey Cook, dean of Boise State University’s School of Public Service, noting the narrow spread among the states on the question. “It not just, ‘I’m not happy if my candidate loses. I’m not even optimistic that if my party’s candidate wins that it will change things dramatically.’ ”
Pessimism seems to be colorblind on the red state-blue state question. Five of the top 10 most optimistic states are in the southeast, while four of the most pessimistic are in the northwest. That’s not so much a function of geography as it is of who won primaries and caucuses in those states. Trump and Clinton, the eventual nominees, did better in the southeastern states than in the northwest, where Sanders or one of Trump’s opponents mostly prevailed.
The Post survey also found ideological and ethnic/racial divisions. Those who identify as very liberal are far more pessimistic than those who identify as very conservative. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are more optimistic than whites.
Other Idaho findings
Not surprisingly for deep-red Idaho, the WaPo poll found Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton 53-34, with 13 percent expressing no opinion. Asked whose presidency would threaten the nation’s well-being, 69 percent of Idaho voters said Clinton, 60 percent said Trump, and 31 percent said both. Only Utah was more pessimistic.
A Washington Post/SurveyMonkey poll surveyed 74,000 registered voters nationwide on the presidential race and the mood of the electorate. Idaho voters ranked as most pessimistic, and Mississippi voters as least pessimistic. The top 10 at both ends:
Most pessimistic states
Least pessimistic states