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Possible upset alert; or not

Bill Sali

Bill Sali

Matt Salisbury

Matt Salisbury

Hard to be sure what to make of this: The evidence consists of a poll conducted for a campaign, and we all know to be leery of such things. It’s offered here as information to stick in the back of your mind until the election returns arrive on Tuesday, in Idaho’s Republican primary. Just in case.

The race is between incumbent U.S. Representative Bill Sali, running now for a second term, and challenger Matt Salisbury, a 34-year-old salesman from Nampa with recent military service in Iraq on his resume. Not a lot of attention, locally (in media reports) or beyond has been given this contest, largely because of a broad assumption that Sali will easily win it. While Salisbury has, his limited campaign budget, run a few ads and achieved some limited visibility, Sali appears to be husbanding his resources (which from recent reports are poor for a significantly-challenged incumbent) for what is probably viewed as a serious contest in the fall against well-funded Democrat Walt Minnick. And that has seemed to be sound strategy.

Is there is a chance it isn’t – that Salisbury might represent a larger threat than he’s given credit for?

Enter the poll – again, as noted, a Salisbury campaign poll, so bear that in mind. But we do know it was run by a professional polling organization, Greg Smith & Associates; they didn’t just make it up.

The poll was conducted May 15-19 of 300 likely Republican primary voters. Conclusion: “If the election was held today, 31% of likely GOP primary voters in Ada/Canyon Counties would vote for Bill Sali (25% “hard” support, 6% “soft”), with 28% supporting Salisbury (15% “hard” support, 13% “soft”). Forty-one percent (41%) remain undecided.”

If Republican primary voters really do think that way, then Sali is in big trouble: Undecideds typically break strongly against incumbents. The poll suggests, in other words, that Salisbury will win.

An early warning of a major upset (or at least a closer call than anyone expected), or a bunch of hooey? We don’t have long to wait – a little over 48 hours from post time – before we know . . .

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