PPP's new Idaho poll finds a close race for Governor- although there are also strong signals within the poll that the contest might not end up being that close in the end. Incumbent Butch Otter leads with only 39% to 35% for Democrat A.J. Balukoff. Minor candidates combine for an unusually high 12%, and 14% of voters are undecided.
The support right now for the minor candidates is a reflection of Otter's unpopularity. Only 36% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 49% who disapprove, and even Republicans are pretty tepid in their feelings about him with 54% approving to 27% who disapprove. But those voters supporting the minor candidates say they would pick Otter over Balukoff 65/26 if they had to choose between the two, and that's enough to push Otter's lead up to 47/38 in a head to head contest. Given the tendency for third party candidates to fade down the stretch, that's an important data point. Beyond that the undecideds voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama 71/16 in 2012, suggesting that if they eventually choose based on party loyalty Otter could ultimately win by double digits despite his current low numbers. All that said, Otter's unpopularity has made this an unusually close contest for Idaho.
There are also several down ballot races right now where Democrats find themselves within striking range. Republican Lawerence Denney leads Holli Woodings only 38/35 for Secretary of State, and Republican Sherri Ybarra leads Democrat Jana Jones just 41/38 for Superintendent of Public Instruction. The undecideds don't bode terribly well for Democratic chances in these races either though- the ones for Secretary of State voted 68/18 for Mitt Romney in 2012, and the ones for Superintendent voted 75/12 for Romney. There's a lot more room for growth for the GOP candidates in these races than the Democrats.
The rest of the Idaho ballot finds Republicans leading by double digits. Jim Risch is up 50/32 on Nels Mitchell for the Senate, Brad Little leads Bert Marley 42/25 for Lieutenant Governor with Constitution Party candidate David Hartigan at 12%, Ron Crane leads Deborah Silver 46/32 for Treasurer, and Lawrence Wasden is up 52/26 on Bruce Bistline for Attorney General.
Other notes from Idaho: