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Posts published in “Idaho”

Tonight, tonight, tonight

In the three states of the Northwest, the magic - or witching - hour is 8 p.m. That's when the polls close and, soon after, numbers start to roll. (In Idaho, where most people are in Mountain Time, numbers usually do not much roll until
9 p.m. Mountain time, in consideration for the people up north whose voting deadline is an hour later.)

polling place image - Washington Secty State officeWe will, of course, be getting a sense of the national trends before that, since many eastern polls will be closing around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Northwest time.

Expect that Oregon numbers will be among the first out; its vote counting procedures allow the count to begin on Tuesday well before the polls close. (And remember, only ballot in the hands of county officials by 8 p.m. today will count - in contrast to Washington, where a Tuesday postmark traditionally has sufficed.) Of some interest: With its new heavy reliance on mail voting, how early will be the Washington votes?

Of course, be sure to check back here: As per usual, we will be tracking results mostly on line. In between a short TV appearance and a stop at a political event, our regular stops this evening will include:


  • The Secretary of State' s office did a fine job of updating on primary election night; it's our top stop in the Gem State.
  • KTVB-TV traditionally has some of the best and fastest election night results in the state.
  • The Idaho Statesman will have information posted on its front page.
  • In eastern Idaho, try KIFI-TV.



A VIEW FROM CONGRESS Also, this could be interesting: Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) says he plans to blog regularly during election night. Could be interesting to pull the take from his angle.

. . . this time, it’s personal

You hear the phrase on trailers for action movie sequels when it comes to battle scenes. Here's an instance where it applies to politics.

Comments from Idaho Senator Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, on lasy-gasp radio ad from Laird Maxwell's pro-Proposition 2 organization:

Once again, the promoters of Proposition Two have taken the low road in an effort to deceive voters. But this time it is personal.

I debated promoter Laird Maxwell on two different Idaho Falls radio stations for an hour each time regarding Proposition Two. Obviously, I was opposed to it and he was in favor. Now his group is taking quotes out of our debate and using them in their mail-outs and actually using my recorded voice on their radio ads to make it sound like I am in favor of Prop. 2. For instance, I said somethng to the effect that, “We are on the same page on this one. Proposition two should not affect existing planning and zoning ordinances.” I was referring to the fact that the proposition is not retroactive like the one in Oregon, but they are quoting it as if I were supporting the whole Proposition.

I have had a number of people call saying they heard the radio ads and were disappointed that I was supporting Prop. 2. You can imagine how angry this makes me. I trust people to be honest in presenting their positions and now I find that some cannot be trusted. It is disheartening to me.

I want to make it clear to my friends and constituents that I am against Proposition 2. I believe it would damage the vitality and economic health of Idaho. I have actively opposed Proposition 2 and urge you to do the same.

It should be personal, at well, to the people the ad was intended to deceive.

UPDATE A reply from Laird Maxwell:

For the record, Sen. Brent Hill was clearly identified as an OPPONENT of Prop. 2 in our radio ad.

Below is the script and attached is the radio ad.

Lastly, we sent out a bulk mail letter where we again quoted Sen. Hill and identified him as an opponent. Here is the excerpt of that letter:

Let's give credit to one politician who's opposed to Prop 2, but who admitted the truth on the air.

Last Tuesday on KZNR Radio in Blackfoot, state Sen. Brent Hill said: "I think that (Prop 2 supporters) and I are on the same page on this one. …This should not affect any planning, zoning, or other land use laws that are already in existence."

Senator Hill is right . By its own clear language, Prop 2 will not affect existing zoning laws. That includes, by the way, the current zoning laws that make it illegal to "turn any Idaho property, including farmlands, into junkyards, power plants, or high rises."

In other words, he confirms that that TV spot you've been seeing is a lie.

I know that Sen. Hill is a square shooter, unlike Nampa Mayor Tommy Dale. I have a deep respect for Sen. Hill and we were square with his quote by identifying him as an opponent. I also believe that by clearly identifying Sen. Hill as an opponent in made our point stronger, in contrast, that many of the other opponents, like Tommy Dale were lying.

What the vets say

Polling tells us that the conflict in Iraq is top of mind for Americans as they vote or prepare to. That suggests we might take a minute to peruse the congressional rankings of what may be its single most relevant private organization, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

They are self-described as "Founded in June 2004, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those Troops and Veterans." And it says that "The IAVA Rating is based on this legislator's voting history on issues that affect US troops, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and military families."

Like other interest groups, they track legislation and congressional action, and also like many, they rate the members of Congress, in this case by letter grade. Here is how they rate the members of Congress from the Northwest.

office Idaho rating Oregon rating Washington rating
Senate Craig (R)
Wyden (D)
Smith (R)
Murray (D)
Cantwell (D)
House Otter (R)
Simpson (R)
Wu (D)
Walden (R)
Blumenauer (D)
DeFazio (D)
Hooley (D)
Inslee (D)
Larsen (D)
Baird (D)
Hastings (R)
McMorris (R)
Dicks (D)
McDermott (D)
Reichert (R)
Smith (D)

Catching on

The increasingly worn initiative come-on of something for nothing really does seem to be wearing thin this year. Several Washington initiatives which would seem to have generated plenty of support in years past are encountering static this year (foreshadowed, maybe, by the failure of the 2005 gas tax measure). In Oregon, the most recent poll projects failure for the TABOR and term limits measures.

Jim Risch
Jim Risch

And in Idaho, polls show the land-use initiative, Proposition 2 - the followup to Oregon's troubled Measure 37 - riding on the edge, where once it might have been a presumptive winner. Part of the reason may be the breadth of opposition to it.

Consider today's press conference (we followed on conference call) set up by Governor Jim Risch at his office. The point it sought to make was made, really, even before anyone spoke. The range of people there present to declare opposition was startling, from business groups to environmental groups to quite a few others. Reflecting on a history of publc gatherings on one side or another of major issues (and Risch has been doing this more than a third of a century), he remarked, "I've never seen one as diverse as this group is." (The next two speakers after him were Republican Senator Brad Little and Democratic Senator David Langhorst.

Risch's own stance as a backer of private property rights is too extensive to seriously question, so his stance on Prop 2 carries weight: "This proposition does not enhance that . . . I can say that with a considerable degree of confidence." His main point was that the initiative would destabilize established land and planning practices, deeply upsetting property rights - and that has been precisely the case where Measure 27 has impacted Oregon.

Another bit drew laughter. One question at the conference noted that Proposition 2's backers said that opponents to the initiative were "liberals."

Which drew a big laugh from Risch: "I've been accused of a lot," he said, "and now the list is complete." Which may be one of the more compelling arguments the Pro 2 critics can make: Any movement so detached from reality that it argues Jim Risch is a liberal . . . well, . . .

WASHINGTON ISSUES Idaho's Proposition 2 still looks like a fairly close call - though momentum seems to be running against it - but as noted above, polling has been showing several key Washington state issues failing. For a solid overview of this, check out the latest University of Washington polling, which projects losses for both Initiative 933 (property rights and land use, comparable to Oregon's Measure 37 of 2004 and Idaho's current Proposition 2) by 51%-39%, and Initiative 920 (to repeal the state estate tax) by 53%-32%.

The decline of television (political advertising)?

Could it be that technology may be bringing toward a close one of the central problems in American politics that earlier technology helped create?

The large problem is money - the massive amounts of money raised and spent in political campaigns, and which this year have broken all sorts of new records in the Northwest as elsewhere - most expensive governor's race in Idaho, most expensive Senate race (almost certainly) in Washington, most expensive House race ever in Idaho . . . on and on. Where money is a problem in politics, we clearly still are in the belly of the monster.

How is all that money spent - or, put another way, what do they need it for? The big component is broadcast, mostly television, advertising. For a generation, the political theory is that a candidate who can heavily outspend an opponent - which translates to, air many more TV spots than the opponent - will often win. (Of course, you have to factor in that many well-funded candidates get well funded because they are considered strong prospects to win.) Campaigns use money for other things too, but if you struck TV advertising off the budget, the size of many of those warchests would shrivel.

So: What if it turns out that TFV ads are simply becoming ineffective as opinion drivers, are no longer helping candidates win elections?

We'll get a more definitive read on that next Tuesday night. But if, for purposes of this discussion, we can assume that recent polls are reasonably predictive, then we may be seeing the early stages of decline in political TV advertising - which could turn out to be one of the best developments for years in the conduct of politics in this country. (more…)

A state on the bubble

Asecond Idaho poll - this one by Greg Smith, for KTVB-TV and the Idaho Business Review, shows almost exactly what last week's Mason Dixon did. About the only thing different was the degree of the most important factor: The undecided.

A surface reading in the governor's race shows Democrat Jerry Brady leading Republican Butch Otter, 41% to 36%; and in the 1st congressional district, it shows Democrat Larry Grant leading Republican Bill Sali, 38% to 34%. The closeness is absolutely startling; these figures, reflecting last week's poll (and following up in some ways from Smith's last poll in August) are unusual, different for Idaho than any polling result in the last dozen years.

And yet you'd be mistaken to shorthand these results as suggesting a probable razor-close finish. What's more likely is that one side or the other will win decisively. We just don't know which.

During those dozen years, since Idaho politics has been frozen in place - almost everything went to conservative Republicans, usually by big margins. Our observation during that time has been that matters would eventually change; politics does not remain static forever. When that change would come, has always been less clear.

Is this the year - in this year of failed local Republican candidacies against a backdrop of larger national Republican failures - the year of the Big Melt?

There's no perfect answer, because that depends on a good many Idaho people who haven't yet decided what to do about these races. In the governor's race, 20% of the voters call themselves undecided between Otter and Brady, and in the congressional, 25% between Sali and Grant. Those are unusually big undecided numbers for so late - this poll was conducted this week - in a campaign.

What they will do, we don't know. But the similar opinion patterns suggest that many of the same factors are causing that indecision; and we know that historically, late undecideds tend to break strongly one way or another, often because of some factor emerging in the last few days before an election.

Add the bulk of the 20% to either Otter's or Brady's numbers, for example, and you wind up with a big win - which, right now, seems more likely than a super-close result.

The catch is that there's almost no way to know - now - which way they will go. (more…)

One-car smashup

One of the core principles of Republican strategist Karl Rove is supposed to be: Hit 'em not where they're weakest, but where they're strongest. Undermine their core strength, amd they're in trouble.

In the Idaho 1st district race, Republican Bill Sali keeps doing it to himself.

Sali's core strength is supposed to be that he is an absolutist, rigorously pure of ideology - a black/white guy, no shades of gray at all.

Now comes a ballot issue on which Idaho voters will have to decide next week - an important one, on land use policy, Proposition 2 - and polls make clear that most Idahoans have figured out what they think. (Last weekend's Idaho Statesman/KIVI-TV poll shows the margin between favor/disfavor as close.) Elected officials and candidates have let loose their thoughts, as have just about all of the candidates for office.

Bill Sali apparently can't decide.

He told the Statesman that "it's one of the most complicated things I've read in my life." Too complicated for him but not for hundreds of thousands of Idaho voters and every other candidate on the ballot? (His opponent, Democrat Larry Grant, is in opposition.)

That lack of a position appears to obtain even though, as Prop 2 manager Laird Maxwell correctly notes, Sali has not protested Maxwell's listing of him as a Prop 2 backer on the initiative's web site.

Could the fact that some of Sali's key out of state backers support the measure have anything to do with his indecision?

We noted this pecuiarity several weeks ago, assuming it would be clarified before now. With a week left before the election, looks as if Sali may remain the fuzzy candidate clear to the end. (If that should change, we'll post to that effect.)

Endorsement Sunday: on Sali

Of the 1st district Idaho daily newspapers which endorse, we correctly estimated that Democrat Larry Grant either might sweep the endorsements over Republican Bill Sali, or all but one. (One more is yet to come in this race.)

The paper we were thinking might go for Sali was the Nampa Idaho Press-Tribune, considering its usually very conservative editorial stands.

Not this time. Their editorial today is the thoroughgoing and powerful - and skillful - editorial blast against Sali we've seen all year. "Skillful" is added in because it did what is tough to do: It explains clearly why, though the candidate may be acceptable philosophically, he is unsuited for the job he seeks. It does so in fair and reasoned terms. Emanating from a solidly conservative editorial board, it has some chance of being taken more than usually seriously by conservative voters.

UPDATE: Corrected for prematurity; we had understood an endorsement had been made, which hadn't.


Today's Idaho poll offered up by Mason Dixon - broadly regarded as one of the better polling firms in the country - courtesy the Boise Idaho Statesman and KIVI-TV in Nampa, shows a general election campaign riding on the razor edge.

The core numbers are these:

Office Republican % Democratic % Undecided %
1st US House Bill Sali 39% Larry Grant 37% 21%
Governor Butch Otter 44% Jerry Brady 43% 12%
Lt Gov Jim Risch 45% Larry La Rocco 36% 18%
Supt Pub Instr Tom Luna 40% Jana Jones 37% 23%

That these numbers are as close as they are in Idaho is noteworthy on its face, and an indicator that recent polls showing a closing of the races are not outliers.

Looks like a serious horse race. But more specifically, what do we make of it? (more…)