Feb. 12, 2016

Poll Shows Sali Trailing in Idaho

A pair of new Roll Call polls offer mixed news for beleaguered House Republicans, with freshman Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) trailing wealthy businessman Walt Minnick (D) by 6 points in his overwhelmingly conservative district, but the GOP candidate in the race for Wyoming’s open at-large seat leading by the same margin.

The two auto-dial telephone polls were conducted for Roll Call on Saturday and Sunday by SurveyUSA.

In Idaho’s 1st district, Sali appeared to be in serious jeopardy with just over two weeks to go until the Nov. 4 elections, as this new survey found the incumbent trailing Minnick, 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

In the Republican bastion of Wyoming, former state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis (R) led Internet entrepreneur Gary Trauner (D) 50 percent to 44 percent, with 2 percent undecided and 4 percent supporting the Libertarian candidate. Rep. Barbara Cubin (R), whom Trauner nearly defeated in 2006, is retiring.

The poll memo prepared by SurveyUSA for the data it collected in Idaho’s 1st district described the race for that seat as “tough sledding” for Sali. The results of the survey suggest that Minnick’s commanding position has more to do with voters’ negative view of Sali than any other factor.

The poll memo compiled for the Wyoming survey indicates Lummis has the edge, while suggesting that attorney David Herbert, the Libertarian candidate, could be a wildcard and noting that Trauner is running 7 points ahead of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). Possibly boosting Lummis is President Bush’s relatively solid 42 percent job-approval rating — much higher than it is nationally and in several other red states.

The Idaho poll rested on a sample of 613 likely voters; the Wyoming poll used a sample of 604 likely voters. Each survey had an error margin of 4 points.

For Sali, the problems are acute, and assailing him from several directions, with the numbers suggesting that the freshman Congressman is his own worst enemy.

Despite the fact that Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) led Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in Idaho’s 1st district, 57 percent to 37 percent, Sali not only trailed Minnick in the horse race, his net favorable rating was the same as Obama’s: minus-14. The survey found Sali’s favorable/unfavorable rating to be 33 percent/47 percent, and revealed Obama’s to be 37 percent/51 percent.

Conversely, Minnick’s net favorable rating was a solid plus-22 — the same as McCain’s. The poll showed Minnick’s favorable/unfavorable rating to be 45 percent/ 23 percent, and McCain’s to be 53 percent/ 31 percent.

Furthering the narrative that Minnick’s position in the lead might be more a function of Sali’s negatives than the Republican Party’s problems nationally, the GOP was still seen as “best equipped to handle the economy” in this poll by a margin of 54 percent to 37 percent.

Among the survey’s additional findings: Bush’s approval rating in the district was 35 percent, with 56 percent disapproving; Congress’ approval rating is an abysmal 9 percent, with 78 disapproving — the lowest in any poll conducted for Roll Call this year.

Fifty-three percent of those polled said the economy was the issue they are most concerned about. Immigration was a distant second, with 12 percent saying they were most concerned about that issue.

Financially, Minnick’s wealth alone has swamped the Idaho Republican.

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