More than 40 percent of Idaho legislators identify themselves as Protestant. That’s in-line with religious affiliation for Idaho’s general population, which according to a 2008 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found 38 percent of Idahoans identify as Protestant.
Data Sources: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Project Vote Smart, Idaho Legislators
Even though the Pew report is a few years old, a spokesman for the non-partisan research center said the data likely hasn’t changed significantly since 2008.
Since the Nov. 6 election, StateImpact Idaho has collected basic demographic information on Idaho’s 105 legislators. Some of that data came from Project Vote Smart, Nexis, the Idaho Legislature, and through interviews with the lawmakers. We’ve looked at lawmakers’ educational backgrounds, their ages, their jobs, and the male-female split. We want to better understand who Idaho lawmakers are, and how their backgrounds compare to the average Idahoan.
Boise State University’s Andrus Center director Dave Adler says like it or not, these demographics matter. For instance, campaigns and pollsters have for years been combing through demographic information to predict who might be most likely to vote for their candidate. “It would be strange to expect demographics would not make a difference in lawmaking and policy making,” says Adler.
Religion is no exception.
“I’ve talked to a number of Idaho legislators, over the years, who have indicated they’d place their religious beliefs over the Constitution,” Adler says. This is most likely reflected in social issues, where people tend to more heavily weigh their own moral or religious beliefs.
Idaho’s legislature looks a lot like the general population when it comes to Protestants. It’s the Catholic and Mormon faiths where you’ll see the biggest difference.
At least 36 percent of Idaho’s legislators identify themselves with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s compared to 23 percent of Idaho’s total population.
Conversely, there is a larger percentage of Catholics living in Idaho, than there are representing constituents in the Legislature. Eighteen percent of Idahoans say they’re Catholic, 8 percent of legislators self-identify as Catholic.
Eleven lawmakers either declined to share their religious affiliation with us for this story, or were unreachable by phone or email.