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ID: Polling Otter and Minnick

Idaho’s Greg Smith Associates polling is also actively pulling up numbers for leading political figures and – considering how static and one-sided things often are in Idaho – some of them ought to be of broader interest.

The strongest numbers among the major figures belong to 2nd District Representative Mike Simpson – his favorable/unfavorable is a very strong 56/8, or +48; as a benchmark, Simpson (now in his sixth term) typically wins general elections with two-thirds of the vote or a little higher. Senator Mike Crapo (59/17, or +42) is close to that, and freshman Senator Jim Risch (49/19, or +30) isn’t far off.

That’s all about what you expect; what’s been less clear is what sort of numbers the new Democrat in the delegation, 1st District Representative Walt Minnick, would draw. Turns out that his numbers (47/20, or +27) are closely comparable to those of Risch, the other new member in the delegation. Those are sound, strong numbers for a Democrat; they suggest Minnick is well-positioned at least for now. There is one distinction: Minnick has a higher number of people saying they have “no opinion,” meaning that he (and his opposition) has more room to sketch in a narrative about him between here in November 2010.

The other numbers of interest concern Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, whose favorable/unfavorable now sits at 47/35 (+12), not terribly strong, and a clear decline from previous polling. Smith’s comment on that: “On one hand, Otter certainly took some popularity hits due to the Legislative session. His insistence on desiring to raise gas/transportation-related taxes for road improvements, along with a negatively perceived Legislative session these tax stands contributed to, certainly caused some perceptual damage to Otter. But, recognize that these perceptions were measured only about a month after the Legislature ended – in other words, while memories are still fresh and haven’t had the time to ‘mellow’. Potential Otter opponents who smell electoral blood would be wise to consider this, and ask themselves who specifically is ‘out there’ sufficiently perceived positively, ably, and credibly enough to be elected Governor in 2010.”

Still, sometimes these early results help make their own realities, as prospective campaigns come together, or fail to.

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