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Pollster Smith fires back at Minnick campaign staffer Foster

Pollster Smith fires back at Minnick campaign staffer Foster

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
June 10, 2010

On Wednesday, John Foster, campaign spokesman for Democrat Walt Minnick, said that Boise pollster Greg Smith's polls are often inaccurate and his results depend on who funds his work.  Smith fired back Thursday, saying that Foster is taking issue with the results of his latest poll to deflect damage for Minnick.  That poll, released Wednesday by Smith, found Republican nominee Raul Labrador up on Minnick by 12 points.

Here is what Smith said in a comment on the story about the poll:

It's too bad that John Foster, whom I admire greatly, has chosen to take issue with the results we've produced over the years.  As he and anyone else with even a scant knowledge of political polling knows, a poll is simply a "snapshot" of attitudes at the time of the research, and is NOT a prediction by any means.  Just like consumer attitudes, voter attitudes do in fact change and adapt due to a number of variables.

Further, if one bothers to look at the entire report that was produced in 2006 discussing the aforementioned results, you'll see that I fully indicated that (1) I felt Sali would be in trouble as November approached (for which I received a great deal of grief from Sali and other Republicans), and (2) I also felt that Otter would in fact surge in the remaining days/weeks.

Further, Greg Smith & Associates has just been recognized as doing superior work to other firms doing work in Idaho by FiveThirtyEight (a well respected national organization who study and rate polling firms across the nation).

I guess it's most telling that Foster obviously feels that Minnick is in trouble, by the fact that he attacks my firm (unjustifiably, I might add), instead of discussing why in fact Minnick is losing ground.  Did he not see primary results from around the nation earlier this week, where there is a clear anti-Washington and/or -incumbent sentiment among the masses (whether justified or not)? It's both pitiful and laughable that instead of attacking Labrador or defending his own candidate, Minnick, he is reduced to criticizing A POLLSTER.

I've known John for years, and have always thought highly of him, and (I thought) him of me and my firm's work.  But, this is politics, after all, and one can't be totally surprised in this silly season when such ludicrous and intellectually suicidal thoughts are conveyed.

Smith’s polls have not necessarily been indicative of electoral outcomes in recent years.  One month before Minnick ousted Republican Bill Sali from the seat in 2008, Smith’s polling among 200 likely voters in the district found that Sali enjoyed a 51-39 lead over his challenger.  Minnick went on to defeat Sali 51-49 on election night.   In 2006, Smith found Democrat Jerry Brady ahead of Republican Butch Otter by 5 percent in the gubernatorial race.  Otter defeated Brady at the polls 52-44.  Earlier in this election cycle, Smith found that Labrador was down by 18 points two weeks before he went on to defeat Vaughn Ward to win the GOP nod.

Smith would not say who funded the poll, but sources inside the Labrador campaign have confirmed that they did not commission the study.  Smith's primary poll released on May 11 was a self-funded venture.

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