Does Idaho GOP’s Inner Turmoil Matter Outside Political Circles?

By Jessica Robinson

Members of Idaho’s Democratic Party gathered over the weekend in Moscow. It was a much calmer event than the Republican convention the week before. That convention left Idaho Republicans still debating who the party chair is after their convention devolved in chaos. And they still don’t have a new platform. Correspondent Jessica Robinson looked into what these problems mean outside the inner-circle of party politics.

The turmoil has certainly been fodder for national political bloggers. But platforms, delegates, party chairs -- this is pretty wonky stuff. Does it actually matter to voters?

Juliet Carlisle: “I bet if you asked the Republicans of Idaho most of them wouldn’t even know there was a convention last week.”

Juliet Carlisle teaches political science at the University of Idaho.

Juliet Carlisle: “These positions are in a lot of ways symbolic. They don’t do a lot for the average voter.”

Long-time Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby says fractures in the Republican party might not do a lot for Democrats either.

Jim Weatherby: “That’s one of the problems of a one-party state, where they often don’t fear losing in the general election because the minor party isn’t strong enough to take them on.”

But both Weatherby and Carlisle agree the convention fracas does reveal how deeply Republicans are divided -- and how difficult it is to find compromise between factions.

Carlisle says what’s insider baseball now could mean more down the road if it affects which voters stay home and which turn out.

Juliet Carlisle: “We have less a majority of eligible voters turning out for elections. And so a group that can mobilize just a few hundred or thousand voters is really going to be able to make an impact.”

For proof, Carlisle says just look at Congressman Eric Cantor’s unexpected defeat to a Tea Party favorite in Virginia.

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