Crunching numbers in the superintendent’s race

As Election Evening gave way to early Wednesday morning, the state superintendent’s race came down to Ada County.

And that kept Jana Jones in the hunt.

Sherri Ybarra square

Sherri Ybarra

Republican Sherri Ybarra had slowly and steadily created a small lead during the evening, opening up a ten,191-vote margin.

Just following 3 a.m., only 72 of Idaho’s 965 precincts were left uncounted. But votes from practically all of Idaho’s red expanse had been tallied, accounting for Ybarra’s lead. Sixty-nine of the excellent precincts were inside Ada County, where Jones, the Democratic nominee, was working sturdy.

At that level, Ada County elections officials had polished off the count in 76 precincts — and Jones had outpolled Ybarra by 17,170 votes. A related displaying in the remaining precincts would be much more than adequate to erase Ybarra’s lead and give Jones the election.

When the last ballots were tallied, Jones gained ground, but not enough. Ybarra had hung on for a five,715-vote victory.

Let’s take a deeper search at Tuesday’s numbers.

In which did Jones and Ybarra win?

Jones managed to get 49.3 percent of the vote while carrying only nine counties. She won Ada, Bannock, Blaine, Latah and Teton counties, the locations A.J. Balukoff also won in his gubernatorial bid. Jones also won her house turf, Bonneville County, a rare feat for a Democrat. She also picked up Nez Perce, Energy and Shoshone counties.

Jana Jones Headshot 2

Jana Jones

That left the rest of Idaho to Ybarra. She racked up massive wins in rural counties that practically usually go Republican, clearing the 70 percent mark in Bear Lake, Franklin, Oneida and Owyhee counties. She also pulled down 62.5 % of the vote in Kootenai County, excellent for a 9,000-vote edge in the raw numbers.

(For more about the county-by-county breakdown, and an interactive map, click on this story from Emilie Ritter Saunders of Boise State Public Radio.)

Undervoting was a factor.

When the numbers grew to become final Wednesday, “Idaho Reports” anchor Melissa Davlin observed a important undervote. Thousands of voters went to the polls Tuesday — but did not vote for Ybarra or Jones.

All advised, 428,403 Idahoans voted in the superintendent’s race, compared to 439,738 votes cast in the large-profile governor’s race and 437,119 votes cast in a low-essential (and eventually unsuspenseful) race for U.S. Senate.

The undervote suggests that voters had been unimpressed with both superintendent’s candidates, or fed up by the campaign, Davlin wrote Wednesday. “I chatted up Republican and independent politicos more than the final two weeks. A lot of voted for Jana Jones or left the race blank altogether.”

These thousands of blank ballots, by themselves, possibly weren’t adequate to swing the end result of a race determined by far more than five,700 votes. But Jones needed each and every vote she could get, so the undervote ended up hurting her and assisting Ybarra.

Ada County vs. the rest of the state.

The reason Ada County gave Jones’ campaign a glimmer of hope was basic: Even in a big year for Republicans, Democrats ran robust in the state’s largest county.

Balukoff, secretary of state’s candidate Holli Woodings and treasurer’s candidate Deborah Silver all carried Ada County. Democrats protected twelve legislative seats in Boise, and none of the races have been close. Democrats also captured a surprisingly contentious race for county coroner.

The superintendent’s race, between other individuals, illustrates the expanding electoral split in between Ada County (and particularly Boise) and the rest of the state.

Jones carried Ada County by twenty,787 votes, garnering a 58.six % vast majority.

Ybarra carried the remaining 43 counties by 27,510 votes, good for a 54.6 % majority.

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