All that attention on the Idaho 1st district campaigns seems to be pretty well placed, to judge from the new poll out by Greg Smith. (See the pdf release for the specs; it was fielded last week.)
In the Republican party, long-time front-runner Vaughn Ward is at 34%, state Representative Raul Labrador 16%, with an even 50% undecided. Ward has a 2-1 lead here. But considering Ward's long run for more than a year, and his massive advantages in organization and money, 34% isn't too impressive. Smith suggests what this seems to indicate: A whole lot of people will be making up their minds in just the next two weeks.
This spring is the period when, theoretically, the Republican organization should have been bearing down and starting to come together. The mass of bad headlines in recent weeks, mostly at Ward's expense but some splattering onto Labrador as well, may have had some long-range effects.
Smith's poll gives incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick 50% against an unnamed Republican at 20% - a good showing. Of course, once there's a name on that Republican, the numbers close up quickly. But Minnick has generated little controversy this year, and you'll hear plenty of conservatives around Idaho say they like him. That's not necessarily enough for re-election, when he may still have great trouble rounding up Democratic troops, and Idaho Republicans who express kindliness toward the occasional Democrat still have a way of coming home in November. But that presumes a Republican nominee they can like, and they haven't been seeing a lot of that in recent weeks.
At two weeks out from the primary, then: The Republican nomination is up for grabs, and so is the general - meaning among other things that Minnick is looking stronger now than he has for most of the last year.