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Posts published in “Day: August 22, 2006”

SUSA: Governors up

The new round of Survey USA reports - we noted presidential popularity in the Northwest a few days back - are out, with mostly good news for the area's governors.

The most critical situation is that of Oregon, where Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski has had to deal with low poll approval numbers for some time now. They got especially bad earlier this summer, but now seem on an uptick - 44% approval, 47% disapproval. Not good, but better than where he was, and very close to where he was toward the end of last year.

SUSA approval chart

In Washington, Democrat Christine Gregoire has improved her numbers considerably from the early part of her term; on taking office in January 2005 her approval/disapproval according to SUSA were a horrible 34%/58%. Early this year the lines crossed, however, and excepting one month (June) her favorables have steadily grown. She now stands at 51%/45% - not great, but a lot better than a year ago.

Idaho Governor Jim Risch, in office only since May, has a shorter track record, so you can't really do an analysis based on trend lines. The current snapshot - 53% favorable, 32% unfavorable - is certainly positive enough, though, enough to rank him as the 18th most popular governor in the country. (Gregoire is 31st and Kulongoski 36th.)

I’ll be the round about

Down at the very end of U.S. Highway 30 at Astoria, close to where it meets U.S. 101 and the Pacific Ocean, there is a tricky little roundabout, a circle where four roads come together; you use the circle to get from the road you're on to the road you're headed.

That is not an unusual roundabout, either, and in Washington and Oregon you'll find them in some unexpected locations. (We distinctly remember getting discombobulated at one in Arlington, Washington.) In Oregon, there are enough roundabouts that you can expect questions about their proper use on your driver's license exam. (And be aware there's a distinction between a roundabout and a traffic circle.)

Idaho, like most of the Rocky Mountain states, never has been much for roundabouts - if any have existed at all in the Gem State up to the last couple of years, we can't think where they are. (If anyone does know, please advise. The loop on the south side of the Clearwater River bridge at Lewiston doesn't count.)

But that's changing. The city of Nampa, which is doing a massive re-do of transportation (and understandably, given the explosive growth there), has just opened its first roundabout, at Amity Road and Happy Valley Road. More are planned for construction before long. And not only that, others are planned for Ada County.

Will be interesting to see how they work in Nampa, Boise and Meridian. Most places we've spotted them in Washington and Oregon, they've been in substantial-traffic but smaller communities, since the circles do require a considerable traffic stop or slowdown.

Even more of a press conference

We've long argued that the proper format for candidate debates is the simpler the better: Clear away everyone but the two (or more) candidates and a moderate to keep the peace and guide the discussion. Start with a general topic or proposition, and then - within the general bounds of civility and time fairness - let the candidates have at it. You'd get much better insight into the candidates and their ideas that way - and even much better drama - than through the usual glorified press conference approach that characterizes most debates.

The new proposal by Governor Jim Risch for his lieutenant governor debate with Democrat Larry La Rocco (as reported on Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Russell's blog), however, takes things in the other direction - no candidate interaction at all, and nothing left but two glorified press conferences. Risch's proposal calls for two half-hour sessions in which each candidate would be questioned by reporters, with the other candidate entirely absent.

She said Risch's spokesman (and his son) Jason Risch explained the idea was proposed “due to the disruptive nature of previous experiences with the opposition.” Russell did not indicate that he elaborated.

The proposal was rejected by Elinor Chehey, the veteran coordinator of debates for the League of Women Voters.

A pile of questions come to mind. Let's sift through some of the more pertinent. (more…)