A new poll released by the campaign for Republican Raul Labrador has his opponent, Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, ahead by 10 points with less than four months to go in the race. The pollster, a Republican agency based in Portland, said Minnick received 37 percent compared Labrador’s 27 percent in a poll of 300 likely voters in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, comprised of the western part of the state. Labrador says he isn’t thrilled about being behind, but is encouraged by the totals.
The poll was conducted by Bob Moore, who said that Minnick’s advantage may be due to his status as an incumbent, a position that comes with greater name recognition. “Labrador is trailing because he is less well-known than Minnick,” said Moore. He noted that of those polled, 38 percent believe that Minnick deserves to retain his seat, while 40 percent of likely voters want him to be defeated in November. Of those who are familiar with Labrador, Moore noted, 41 percent prefer the Republican, while Minnick received 36 percent.
“I have to say that I am very heartened by this polling data,” Labrador said in a prepared statement. “Obviously, I would rather be ahead – but I am satisfied that the polling shows Idaho is ready to make a change, that this race is more than winnable. I am excited by the opportunity of earning the votes of those undecided today.”
Additionally, 61 percent of those polled said they would support a Republican candidate who pledged to check the agenda of Democrats and President Barack Obama.
John Foster, campaign spokesman for Minnick, brushed off the polling data. “Obviously Walt has a lot of support, but we’re not focused on polls. Walt is spending his time continuing to work hard and be an effective leader for Idaho,” Foster said.
This isn’t the first time Labrador has been behind in a race during this election cycle. Polling data released during his primary election fight with Vaughn Ward showed Labrador trailing 18 points less than two weeks before coming from behind to win the race. The data does conflict somewhat with an independent poll released in June by Greg Smith, a Republican pollster. Smith said that Labrador was leading Minnick by 12 points in early June, though the Smith’s findings were challenged by Foster, who said Smith has a reputation of inaccuracy.