Matching the numbers

The most interesting parts of the multi-newspaper poll in Idaho released last week are less the answers to individual questions, than answers when compared to one another.

There was, for example, the 59% to 23% margin in favor of the core revenue decision made by the Idaho Legislature and Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter this year – to not raise taxes.

However, 56% said that school spending in Idaho was too low, compared to 12% too high and 23% “about right”. This session’s cut of public schools funding similarly was opposed by 59% to 27% in favor. Since public schools make up about half of the state’s general fund, where did these voters think the money was supposed to come from?

One of the basic questions in a political poll (this one, by the way, was conducted by the reputable Mason-Dixon Polling and Research company) has to do with party identification. This one showed statewide respondents at 47% Republican, 22% Democratic and 31% independent or other. Not shocking numbers (though underscoring the structural difficulty Democrats face in Idaho).

Now consider a few other items. 59% opposed the 17th amendment repeal backed by the state GOP; a plurality of 40% opposed (to 36% in favor) a prospective amendment to seek state authority to take over federal lands.

Asked if they “generally support the agenda of the Tea Party movement,” 48% said yes (to 37% no). But how many Idahoans in the group considered themselves members of the Tea Party? Just 7% – and even among self-identified Republicans the number rises only to 11%.

There’s a term called “cognitive dissonance.” Idaho political strategists may want to familiarize themselves with it.

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