Colorado and Idaho are fast-growing Rocky Mountain states that have been transformed by an influx of new, like-minded residents. But they increasingly occupy two separate worlds, as both represent different poles of state-level political homogenization.
Denver-based Democracy team reporter Nick Riccardi spent weeks working with real estate agents to find people who had recently moved to Idaho because it was politically conservative and to Colorado because it represented the opposite. He figured these states would be ideal settings to tell the story of a country where political polarization has only deepened in recent years, with Americans sorting themselves in Democratic- or Republican-controlled states.
Riccardi traveled to Idaho for interviews and found other subjects near his base in Denver. He found that abortion, LGBTQ+ issues and even how a state had responded to the Covid-19 pandemic are all major drivers in how people are deciding where to live. As a result, states are leaning even further to the left or right, and the divide just keeps growing wider.
Riccardi’s enterprise feature was the AP’s top-performing story the day it was published. It had 200,000 page views and was the top story for engagement, with a perfect 100 score. And it also was by far the most viewed story across the AP’s social media platforms, with nearly 20,000 views.
For a deeply engaging snapshot of polarization in American democracy, Riccardi earns AP’s Best of Week — Second Winner