Probably time here for a few perspective words on the ever-changing Idaho 1st House race, between incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick and (now) Republican Raul Labrador.
There are, after all, lots of conflicting indicators. We noted here, with minimal comment, a new poll giving a lead to Labrador. There's been pushback from the Minnick camp, naturally; and our view is that these days, all polls should be taken with caution. Then there are other views, such as the Stu Rothenberg national column saying "Minnick’s re-election prospects have brightened" with Labrador's nomination. Caution is needed here too; the Republican establishment had been solidly behind Labrador's primary opponent, and a lot of what you hear may reflect disappointment of many of the usual organization people and establishment sources that their guy didn't win.
So what to make of all this?
The overriding truth seems to be that this is not a locked contest and it genuinely could go either way. That's not a hard conclusion to reach when you consider the assets and liabilities each side can or prospectively could draw upon, and observe that they're not badly matched - at least for now.
Minnick has a collection of serious assets. Incumbency, for one. Idahoans in recent decades have been loathe to throw their incumbents out of office, and in the last 20 years have done so only twice in congressional or statewide elections. Minnick has given conservatives little to get angry about, leaving them mostly to the more intellectual party-in-charge argument that doesn't have much emotional resonance. A lot of conservative Republicans say they kinda like him. He has returned regularly to the district, projects a good working relationship with the other members of the delegation (all four often sign announcement news releases), appears to have kept up with constituent work. His campaign has been organized and primed since the last one ended, and it is well-funded by any standard, and extremely well-funded by 1st district standards. And far better funded, at this point, than his opponent's. He is not Mr. Charisma, but he seems to be liked personally - not a bad thing. (more…)