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Election 2024: Biden wins Idaho Democratic Party’s presidential caucus


Election 2024: Biden wins Idaho Democratic Party’s presidential caucus

May 24, 2024 | 12:58 am ET
By Clark Corbin
Election 2024: Biden wins Idaho Democratic Party’s presidential caucus
U.S. President Joe Biden greets attendees after speaking at a campaign event on April 16, 2024, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden cruised to victory in Thursday’s Idaho Democratic Caucus, claiming 95% of the votes to win the six-candidate caucus outright, the Idaho Democratic Party announced. 

Results released late Thursday night by the Idaho Democratic Party showed Biden won more votes than all the other candidates combined. 

  • Biden: 2,297 votes, 95% 
  • David Olscamp: 14 votes, 0.5%
  • Jason Palmer: five votes, 0.2%
  • Armando Perez-Serrato: three votes, 0.1%
  • Dean Phillips: 14 votes, 0.5%
  • Marianne Williamson: 79 votes, 3.28%

The Idaho Democratic Party reported there were 2,412 votes cast in Thursday’s caucus.

Idaho Democratic Caucus 2024
Ada County Democrats Chair Erik Berg, seated at center, helps volunteers count the ballots after Thursday’s Idaho Democratic Caucus at Timberline High School in Boise. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)

A total of 2,412 votes means turnout was exceedingly low on Thursday. However, calculating the percentage of voter turnout could be tricky because Democrats and unaffiliated voters were allowed to vote in the caucus.

The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office reports there are 125,585 registered Democratic voters in the state. Based only on the pool of 125,585 Democratic voters, turnout could be calculated at about 1.9%, but that calculation would ignore the fact that some unaffiliated voters did vote in the Democratic caucus. The Democratic Party did not indicate the number of unaffiliated voters who cast ballots Thursday.

Across the Gem State, there are 273,862 unaffiliated voters, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

At any rate, Biden’s victory was never in doubt. As the incumbent president, Biden had already secured enough delegates to clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

The presidential caucus is new for Idaho voters this year because the Idaho Legislature seemingly unintentionally eliminated the presidential primary election in Idaho by passing House Bill 138 during the 2023 legislative session. The Idaho Republican Party held its presidential caucus on March 2. The Idaho Republican Party announced that former President Donald J. Trump won Idaho’s GOP caucus

Voters, officials say they prefer a primary election rather than a presidential caucus

Several Democratic caucus goers and elected officials told the Idaho Capital Sun that they would prefer to vote for president in a primary election instead of a separate caucus. 

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“It seems pretty easy, but I don’t know why we have primaries and a caucus,” voter Sally Davies-Sexton told the Idaho Capital Sun after casting her vote for Biden at the Timberline High School caucus site in Boise on Thursday. “It’s just having two events, and then this is not exactly around the corner.”

Idaho’s primary election, which did not feature presidential candidates, took place earlier in the week on Tuesday.
Voter Mary Ruckh has volunteered as a poll worker and served as a chief elections judge at a polling site during Tuesday’s Idaho primary election. Ruckh rode her bicycle to the Timberline High School caucus site to vote for Biden, but said she would have preferred to vote in a primary election. Primary elections are run by county elections offices and the state, while a caucus is run by the political parties. 

“A primary – it’s so much more structured, it’s under the egis of government,” Ruckh said. 

Ruckh did say this year’s Democratic presidential caucus was a major  improvement over the most recent Democratic caucus in 2016, which was marred by long lines that many voters endured for hours

Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, told the Sun on Thursday that the Idaho Legislature needs to reinstate a presidential primary. 

Rep. Ilana Rubel, a Democrat, represents legislative district 18.
House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, represents legislative district 18 in the Idaho House.

“We very much wanted a primary, because we were really concerned about the limitations on a caucus and whether that would restrict full participation,” Rubel said. 

“I certainly hope before the next presidential race that we are able to restore a primary,” Rubel added.

Idaho Democratic Party rules allowed voters who will turn 18 years old by the Nov. 5 general election to register to vote and vote in Thursday’s presidential caucus. 

Kennedy Fletcher, a 17-year-old first-time voter, received a round of applause from Democratic volunteers and other voters when she turned in her ballot Thursday night at Timberline High School. Fletcher told the Sun she is supporting Biden because of the clear differences between him and Trump. 

“I like getting involved politically. I know who I am going to vote for and everything, and I am really excited to vote in the actual presidential election,” Fletcher said. 

Assistant House Minority Leader Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
Assistant House Minority Leader Lauren Necochea, D-Boise. (Courtesy of the Idaho Legislature)

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea, who is also the outgoing House assistant minority leader, said she wasn’t surprised to see Biden perform strongly in Thursday’s caucus. Necochea said the party will unify strongly behind Biden heading into the Nov. 5 Election Day. 

“President Biden is the only person who has beaten President Trump in a presidential election,” Necochea said. 

Idaho Democrats allowed absentee voting, media coverage

While the Idaho Republican Party’s March 2 caucus required voters to participate only in person, the Idaho Democratic Party allowed voters request and mail in an absentee ballot if they were unable to attend due to military or religious service, work, disability, illness, child care obligations or the inability to travel.

The Idaho Democratic Party also allowed news reporters to observe the caucus and interview voters. The Idaho Republican Party did not allow news reporters who are not affiliated with the Republican Party to observe its caucus.