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Deja-vu, again

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The quote is one of the classic statements attributed to the great New York Yankees catcher, the late Yogi Berra. Known for his malapropisms, his twisting of words and talent for stating the obvious, Berra’s comment on redundacy will forever be part of his legacy.

The television commercial he made for AFLAC that left the AFLAC goose shaking his head will also be an immortal classic on YouTube.

The Senate Democratic candidate, Jerry Sturgill, running for the seat now held by incumbent Michael Dean “Mike” Crapo, is circulating a two-page memo summarizing a poll conducted by Celinda Lake from July 5th through the 10th of 500 registered Idaho voters. The polling firm, Lake Research Partners, has polled for many Democratic candidates throughout the west for many years.

The memo is somewhat of a sale piece designed to show that Sturgill, who is virtually unknown statewide, has a real shot at upsetting Senator Crapo. Of course he just needs money to get Crapo’s record known to the voters.

Lake’s memo highlights the fact that Crapo’s support is below the magic 50% number, though only by 1%, well within the poll’s margin of errors of plus or minus 4.4%. The memo states Crapo has a poor job performance ranking with 48% rating his work at fair to poor. However,the memo also admits his good to excellent number is 41%.

Lake further states her data indicates that 25% of the voters are undecided and that Senator Crapo in particular has a problem with independent voters. She also says Crapo’s re-election prospects will suffer because of Donald Trump leading the Republican ticket.

Lake says Sturgill is not a “typical” Democrat and cites as evidence the fact that Sturgill is a former bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is a return missionary. Crapo, however, is also LDS, a former bishop and return missionary. That and a couple of bucks will buy one a decaf Americano at a nearby Starbucks.

Lake ends her memo by saying that Crapo is vulnerable and she calls it a tie race right now. That is quite simply a wish and a prayer. Perhaps if Sturgill had $3 million to spend on ads tagging Crapo as a career politician who is part of the reason our Congress is so dysfunctional and also portrayed the senator as a creature of Wall Street who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the major banks, Sturgill might have a shot.

Crapo, for his part, is taking nothing for granted. By election day he will have been to every incorporated city, town and village in Idaho. He also will spend most of the $4.5 million he has accumulated in donations making his case that he is a working senator.

The end result will be another slaughter of a Democrat by a Republican in a statewide race. A brief look at the record of recnt senate races drives home the reality: In 2010 Crapo received 319,953 votes to Democrat Ted Sullivan’s 112,057 votes, a 71% margin; in 2004 Crapo was unopposed; in 1998 Crapo received 262,966 votes to Democrat Bill Mauk’s 107,375 votes, a margin of 70% to 28%.

Idaho’s most recent Senate race in 2014 saw former Governor Jim Risch easily defeat Democrat Nels Mitchell. Risch polled 285,596 votes to Mitchell’s 151,574 votes, a margin of 65% to 35%.

Bottom line is Sturgill doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Crapo who probably will win by a 75% to 25% margin.
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Reporters and contributors have seen memos like this from Celinda Lake before in other Idaho Senate races. Most have not had the resources to act on her interpretation. Ask one who did, though. In 1996, Walt Minnick, at the last minute believing a Lake poll allegedly showing him within two percentage points of Senator Larry Craig, put $500,000 of his own money into additional tv advertising.

He lost, garnering 188,422 votes to Senator Craig’s 283,532 votes, a margin of 57% to 40%. Facts are facts and the Lake memo is deju vu.

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