November 7, 1996 in Idaho

Election Draws Record Number

Associated Press

A record number of voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s general election, activated by a hotly contested U.S. Senate race that they turned into a cakewalk for the incumbent.

Unofficial final returns indicated that 507,000 people voted, some 15,000 more than in 1992 when the old record was set.

It will take several days to determine the percentage turnout of registered voters because of Idaho’s election-day registration law, but state election officials projected it at 75 percent of an estimated 680,000 registered voters.

That would still fall far short of the 1960 record of 83.3 percent.

The race that drew the most votes was Republican Sen. Larry Craig’s bid for a second six-year term against millionaire businessman Walt Minnick.

Although Craig had been an odds-on favorite to easily win on Tuesday, Minnick spent $1 million of his own fortune to press the incumbent to the end, and there was some belief among Republicans that what was once a margin in the polls of 20 points had been slipping toward single digits as the election neared.

But Craig won by 17 points, taking full advantage of the legendary state GOP organization and the huge turnout that traditionally pads that advantage.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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