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Saturday, September 09, 2006

ID-01: Startling Poll Results Show Grant (D) Leading

Posted by James L.

So when I saw this posted by mcjoan on DailyKos after I got in tonight (08/28-09/01, likely voters, July in parens)...

Larry Grant (D): 22 (25)
Bill Sali (R): 14 (41)
Undecided: 61 (34)
MoE: ±7.4%

...I had to take a long, hard look at the ingredients list on this Stolichnaya bottle on my desk. Sali losing 27% since July? Undecideds doubling? My first inclination was to believe that this poll neglected to lump in "leaners"--voters not firmly committed to a candidate but leaning tentatively one way or the other. So I checked out the actual polling report (which you can find here in .DOC format courtesy of the Ridenbaugh Press), and, nope, "leaners" were indeed included here. My second reaction was that there must have been some kind of major methodological lapse that resulted in these crazy-ass numbers--a response that Idaho-based pollsters Greg Smith & Associates anticipated:

"The most striking finding from this study, certainly compared to the end-of-July study Greg Smith & Associates executed, is the significant shift in voter sentiment within the 1st Congressional District in just a month or so." Smith said. "The change is so dramatic that a person might wonder if there was some kind of significant methodological differences between the July and late August polls that would account for the change.

"The fact is, though, that other races are at roughly the same levels of support in both polls," Smith said. "The change is clearly a result of changing voter sentiment, not a change in polling methodology."

As they say, all the other results from this statewide poll reflect the conventional wisdom on the political culture of Idaho:

Office Republican % Democrat %
Governor Butch Otter 42% Jerry Brady 18%
Lt Gov Jim Risch 46% Larry La Rocco 23%
ID-01 Bill Sali 14% Larry Grant 22%
ID-02 Mike Simpson 61% Jim Hansen 19%
Superintendent Tom Luna 40% Jana Jones 29%

So every other major race in Idaho is playing out just as expected this election season... except for its first congressional district, according to this poll at least. As you may recall, Bill Sali, the Republican nominee is a reality-challenged state legislator whose abrasive tenure in the ID House caused his Republican colleagues to daydream about throwing him out of their office windows. If this poll is in reality's ballpark, it's quite likely that all the press coverage on the newly-minted Republican nominee has forced some of Sali's controversial career highlights to the surface. Smith & Associates cites this same reason in their analysis, as well (filter through the Republican-esque rhetoric about "Democrat partisans" and "media efforts" dragging Sali down--as if simple truth-telling is part of some scary liberal media agenda):

"Such charges as Sali’s perceived lack of ability to get along with other Idaho Legislators, and his unyielding adherence to political principle, seem to have gotten some traction with 1st District voters, and a ‘FUD’ factor (fear, uncertainty, doubt) appears to have taken hold," Smith said. “To this extent, the efforts of the media and Democrat partisans have been effective."

Idaho Republicans have already been scrambling to seal any cracks in the GOP base, ramping up attacks against Larry Grant's Republican supporters in a tone and volume that has the Ridenbaugh Press' Randy Stapilus raising his eyebrows, and wondering if the problem is deeper than it appears on the surface.

Whether it's in this election or the next, Sali is going to be as vulnerable as an Idaho Republican could be. Granted, this is Idaho, but Sali has a track-record of saying some incredibly stupid shit like boasting about how, even though he suffers from something that he affectionately refers to as "brain fade", he can adequately fulfill his duties as a legislator because "critical thinking skills are not required" in that line of work. His history in the state house was the laughingstock of the Republican caucus--at least until he won the nomination for the congressional seat. Now they're they're closing ranks and circling the wagons, fearing the prospect of a Democratic House of Representatives. But I'd be willing to bet that sending a man like Bill Sali to Washington will eventually produce a Jean Schmidt-style embarrassment of one kind or another.

For now, though, we have a tremendous opportunity to do a bit of party building while also causing a little mayhem behind enemy lines, so to speak. Your support for netroots-endorsed challenger Larry Grant will go a long way towards helping Larry spread his message throughout the district and give Bill Sali and national Republicans some heartburn this November.

Posted at 12:31 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Idaho | Technorati

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It's really something, isn't it? Who would've dreamed this could happen in the ID-01? I attribute the huge pool of undecideds to the fact that -except in a few areas like Boise, Moscow, and Sun Valley - it's VERY hard for Idaho Republicans (and many independents) to admit publicly (even to a pollster) they may vote for a Democrat.

Larry LaRocco, the last Dem to hold this seat (for four short years in the early 90s), said on local talk radio today that he heard that Charlie Cook opined on a panel in DC last week that this race could be THE surprise of 2006.

If that's the case, I am not sure why Cook doesn't move us from Likely GOP (where we've been stuck since spring) to Leaning GOP, but whatever. We at the Grant campaign are thrilled with the shift away from Sali, and we are confident Larry will win the trust of most of the folks who've decided Sali would be a big mistake in Congress.

Posted by: Julie Fanselow [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 9, 2006 10:19 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Given that Sali picked up the nod with only a quarter of the gop vote and is the commensurate lightning rod bad candidate, add that Grant doesn't posesss any major negatives other than being a Dem in Idaho, I'm not totally surprised at these numbers. This seat was on my list for surprise pick-ups of 2006 and will now remain on that list. My guess is that Cook, CQ and other pundits are tepid about placing this in anything but the gop category because the District is R +19 and its Congressperson (Otter) is heading the Statewide ticket. I don't expect that Grant can pull this off by a double digit win, but I think this is do-able, after all, we're constantly told that the quality of the candidate and the candidate's campaign is a key factor in these race ratings, and in this case its a worse-case scenario for the gop here.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 9, 2006 03:14 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I am not sure why Cook doesn't move us from Likely GOP (where we've been stuck since spring) to Leaning GOP

Since 5% of polls are outliers (assuming a 95% CI), I doubt Cook would shift his rankings off of one poll.

Posted by: Jay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 10, 2006 08:20 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment