Idaho had one of the nation's widest swings in the percentage of households responding to the 2010 census by mail. Blaine County's rate was about midway between the state's highest and lowest responding counties, according to an Idaho Mountain Express analysis of the state's 44 counties.
Blaine's 58 percent mail response rate tied it for 36th place among the 44 counties, about midway between the state's highest (83 percent for Jefferson, Madison, Oneida and Payette counties) and lowest (Valley County, 32 percent).
In a separate category, the capital city of Boise, in Ada County, was a star performer: Its 81 percent mail response rate placed it 14th among U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more.
For the state as a whole, 76 percent of Idaho households responded to the mail census survey—2 percentage points above the national average of 74 percent.
Asked about the wide gaps in response rates, a Seattle-based official of the U.S. Census Bureau, Hector Moldonado, said a number of reasons might apply. He said counties with higher response rates had very aggressive census education and awareness programs. Those with lower rates might have encountered mail delivery problems, resisted cooperating with the census or encountered immigration issues.
Among other factors, census population data helps determine the number of members of the House of Representatives a state is entitled to.