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Spin Control

Candidates take note: Electorates in WA, ID different from US

Electorate Profile: Washington[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Washington’s voting age population is whiter and richer than the nation as a whole, the U.S. Census Bureau says. It is less white, but richer, than Idaho’s.

Those are some of the conclusions of the bureau’s most recent surveys of the people 18 and older in the two states. Candidates preparing for this very political year of caucuses, primaries and general elections might want to take note of the different characteristics in the various states.

According to those surveys, there are slightly over 5 million in Washington who could vote this year and almost 1.15 million in Idaho. That’s the total of residents 18 and older, excluding those who aren’t citizens. 

The number who will vote, however, is likely to be significantly smaller, because only about 80 percent of the people the bureau estimates are eligible to vote are registered in Washington. In Idaho, registration is about 65 percent of the estimated number of eligible citizens.

Not every registered voter casts a ballot. A presidential election usually generates the heaviest voting in a four-year cycle, but over the last four presidential elections, turnout has averaged 81 percent in Washington and 75 percent in Idaho.

The Census Bureau does not collect data on people who vote or are registered, but its most recent American FactFinder Survey does show the characteristics of the population in each state that is 18 and older. Comparing all the date, the bureau produced profiles of the state electorates:

  • The voting-age population of the United States as a whole is about 66.3 percent white. In Washington, it’s 76.4 percent white, and in Idaho, 86.8 percent white.
  • About one American in eight, or 12.5 percent, is black. In Washington it’s about one in 25, and in Idaho slightly less than one in 100.
  • About 15 percent of voting age Americans are Hispanic. In Washington and Idaho the figure is that’s just under 10 percent.
  •  Only 6 percent of voting-age Americans are Asian. In Washington, that’s higher, at 9.4 percent; in Idaho, much lower, at less than 2 percent.
  •  In Washington and Idaho About 2 percent of Washington and Idaho citizens are Native Americans, compared to 1.2 percent for the country as a whole. 
  • The nation’s median household income is $53,657. Washington’s is $61,366 and Idaho’s is $47,861.
  • Thirty percent of Americans who are 25 and older have at least one college degree compared with 33 percent in Washington and 25 percent in Idaho.

Electorate Profile: Idaho[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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