TV works, if you ask Walt Minnick’s campaign.
The Democratic congressional candidate’s campaign said Thursday that its latest poll shows Minnick narrowing or even reversing the gap between him and incumbent U.S. Sen. Larry Craig in every part of the state except North Idaho. In the north, the poll shows that Craig still has a 40-point edge.
Minnick has run six television ads, at a cost of $230,000, around the state. Only one of the ads ran in North Idaho.
“It’s the one place in the state we haven’t punched through with TV yet,” said Minnick campaign manager Bill Broadhead. “I think once we introduce Walt to voters in the same way we’ve done it in the rest of the state, I think that gap’s going to close remarkably.”
Mike Tracy, Craig’s campaign spokesman, dismissed Minnick’s numbers as a ploy to make the challenger’s campaign look viable. Tracy said the Craig campaign’s polls show otherwise.
“The only thing that went up for Walt in our polls was his negatives went up by 8 percent,” Tracy said. “Their entire campaign has been a negative smear campaign. I think our polling data demonstrates that people don’t like that.”
Craig has run two television ads at a cost of about $80,000, Tracy said.
Minnick’s new poll was done by Washington, D.C., pollster Celinda Lake. It queried 500 likely Idaho voters last Sunday and Monday.
The poll found 45 percent favoring Craig, 33 percent for Minnick, 2 percent for Independent Mary Charbonneau and 20 percent undecided.
But when the numbers were broken down by television market, they showed Craig with a 42-40 edge in the Boise area and a 42-31 lead in the Idaho Falls area. Minnick was ahead 43-35 in the Twin Falls market, and Craig was ahead 59-19 in the Spokane market, which covers North Idaho.
“The Spokane market’s really expensive, and it’s not very efficient,” Broadhead said. “You’re talking to people all throughout Eastern Washington, British Columbia, some people in western Montana. But the usefulness for a political campaign stops at the state boundary.”
Broadhead was enthusiastic about the poll results. “It tells me that our job in this campaign is to introduce Walt to the voters in North Idaho. If we do that, and we see the same change in the North Idaho numbers we’ve seen in the rest of the state, this race will be dead even.”
Minnick’s poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Tracy said Craig’s most recent poll, conducted July 28-29, showed Craig with 57 percent, Minnick with 28 percent, 3 percent for Charbonneau and 12 percent undecided.
The Craig campaign’s poll was conducted by the Tarrance Group. It also polled 500 likely voters around the state and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
Craig’s poll found that a third of respondents said they’d be less likely to vote for Minnick after seeing his ads.