Sunday, December 10, 2023

OPINION: Dems fared better than expected in elections

by EVAN KOCH/More Perfect Union
| November 15, 2023 1:00 AM

The November 2023 election results are now certified. The results show that throughout the United States, the Democrats did very well.

Voters stopped the conservative-led anti-abortion efforts in Virginia and Ohio. 

They re-elected a common sense Democratic Governor in Kentucky. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, voters added to these victories by endorsing a progressive agenda.

Democratic wins extended to Idaho as well.

In counties where Democrats endorsed candidates in nonpartisan elections, the Democrat-endorsed candidates won. More than 30 candidates in Ada, Bannock, Blaine, Bonneville, Latah, Teton, Valley, and Washington counties were openly endorsed by those respective county Democratic Central Committees - and they all won. 

In fact Democrat-endorsed candidates won big, a whopping 73% of the time statewide.  

That indicates that working across party lines to advance shared values moves Idaho forward.

The Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee has not endorsed candidates in nonpartisan elections. If a local Democrat contributes to a nonpartisan campaign, they do so as a civically engaged individual without the coordination, backing, or understanding of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee. 

And yet, in Coeur d’Alene, five remarkable and moderate candidates won anyway. 

Dan English (D), who has a long family history in Coeur d’Alene, was handily re-elected. 

Christie Wood and Dan Gookin, who are Republicans with moderate values, were easily re-elected as well. 

Heather Tenbrink and Jimmy McAndrew, who voiced support for public schools, won seats on the Coeur d’Alene School board.

Council members English, Wood, and Gookin won by handsome margins. 

Dan English, who faced a three-way race, won by 11.4%.Christy Wood won by 16.7%; Dan Gookin won by 19.8%.

Political scientists consider a 10% margin of victory to be a landslide.

With their records of prudent governance, they all enjoyed tremendous respect from the people of Coeur d’Alene.

This just goes to show that, when given the chance, Coeur d’Alene’s voters select the person, not the party.

Even outside Coeur d’Alene, the anticipated drubbing of moderate candidates did not occur.

A wise political scientist who follows these races very closely, explained the results this way.

He believes that chaos, like that created by the trustees at North Idaho College and the Community Library Network, motivates voters to the polls. Turnout this year was 35%, “unusually high for an off-year election.”

“Voters want good, qualified candidates,” he said, “preferably those with a reputable history of service in government, and who pose no threat of repeating the chaos we have witnessed at  NIC.”

This must have favored solid candidates like English, Wood and Gookin.

Their margins of victory were the largest we have seen in a while.

My political scientist friend added that the wins in Coeur d’Alene were not surprising because polling is generally skewed against Democrats. “We are often 8% better than polls indicate.” 

He said that support for the KCRCC may also be dropping. “This year the GOP had fewer volunteers at polling places than in past years.”

And referring to those who consider themselves “Christian Patriots,” my political scientist friend expressed his hope that “when these newcomers gain a better understanding of the history of human rights conflicts in this area, they move toward moderation.”

To sum up, Democrats did better than expected in 2023. A light at the end of the far right tunnel may be coming into view.

We look forward to the 2024 elections. With the large turnout expected in 2024, we can hope to unseat one or two of the chaotic incumbents responsible for the instability in our County.

That’s how we build (you guessed it) a more perfect union.

• • •

Evan Koch is chairman of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee.

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