Capitol & State

Balukoff: Internal polling makes race vs. Otter 'dead heat'

Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff is pointing to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll that shows Gov. Butch Otter's popularity falling 10 points from his 2010 re-election bid.

The Rasmussen poll released early this month has Otter up 50 percent to 36 percent over Balukoff, president of the Boise school board. In March 2010, a Rasmussen survey put Otter at 60 percent.

"That's a 10-point drop!" writes Balukoff's campaign manager, Marie Hattaway, in the overheated style common to the fundraising game. Hattaway says Balukoff "must raise" $10,000 in contributions by June 30.

"What's more impressive?" Hattaway continues. "Our internal polling shows that when voters learn about A.J., the race becomes a dead heat — it's ours to lose and that's why we need you right now."

"Internal polling" often prompts voters with "did you know?" information about the candidates, skewing results to favor the campaign conducting the "polling."

Balukoff seeks to overcome Otter's huge fundraising advantage. The two-term GOP incumbent had $451,000 in cash compared to Balukoff's $38,000, as of May 30.

In his post-primary Sunshine filing, Balukoff reported having raised about $307,000 so far this year. Balukoff carried over about $38,000 from 2013, after beginning his campaign in early December.

The governor began the year with $708,000 banked and Otter reported raising $494,000 between Jan. 1 and May 30.

In a solicitation last week, Balukoff claimed the momentum in the race after Otter's 51 percent to 44 percent win over Sen. Russ Fulcher in the May 20 GOP primary.

"Can you feel that?" wrote Balukoff. "It’s called momentum.  

"As you know, Gov. Otter won his primary against Sen. Russ Fulcher, but not by much.  After doing a little digging, we came across something really interesting: Gov. Otter won his primary by the smallest margin of any Republican incumbent governor in the entire U.S.—he’s vulnerable.

"And that’s why we need your help right now."