Voters in five counties in rural areas of Oregon voted on Tuesday to support a partisan movement to join Idaho, over what appears to be complaints of having to live in a state where there are more liberals than there are conservatives.
Those five counties have now joined two others in Oregon, representing about three-quarters of the state’s land area (though only about 2.7 percent of its total population), in what’s being called the “Greater Idaho” movement.
The movement appears to be wholly partisan, as its organizers say on their website that they’re tired of belonging to a state whose population is more Democratic-leaning than Republican. The movement also appears to be seeking to remove parts of northern California and place that area under Idaho’s purview as well.
“We need to unite our neighbors around the idea of moving the border so that we can convince state legislators to stop holding our counties captive in a blue state,” the group said in a statement responding to the votes on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Oregon by a nearly 16-point margin. But in Jefferson County, one of the jurisdictions that has voted in favor of joining the “Greater Idaho” movement, Trump defeated Biden by around 23 percent — however, that county’s vote totals represented fewer than 12,000 of the 2.37 million ballots cast in the state.
In contrast, Trump won the state of Idaho with approximately 64 percent of the vote, aligning closely with the counties in Oregon that wish to join their neighbor.
The movement, however, faces a number of problems, not the least of which is the fact that three of the seven counties that have voted to break off from Oregon are not connected to the other four counties, to each other or even to Idaho. Both states would need to approve the transfer, as well as Congress, according to the U.S. Constitution.
Only one of the states’ governors — Gov. Brad Little (R-Idaho) — says he’s open to the movement’s goals.
There have only been three instances of similar territorial shifts in U.S. history: Kentucky was formed in 1792 out of territory that was once claimed by Virginia; Maine, which was part of Massachusetts for the first few decades after the Constitution was signed, became a state in 1820; and during the Civil War, counties that were still loyal to the Union broke off from Virginia to become West Virginia.
Another issue that members of the movement may not have considered: While the counties voted with large majorities of constituents favoring the move to Idaho, there are still a sizable proportion of residents who do not back it. According to the “Greater Idaho” movement’s own numbers, close to two-in-five voters in the counties that voted on Tuesday were opposed to the measure.