Sometimes it is amazing how elected officials can just ignore the will of voters – even when those voters overwhelmingly desire their public officials to take a specific action.
Such is the case with Idaho voters and the Idaho Legislature on term limits – for their very own legislators.
A new Idaho Politics Weekly poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, finds that 84 percent of voters want term limits for state officials, like the governor and legislators.
But even though Idaho voters passed, in 1992, term limits for their officials, the Idaho Legislature repealed that law in 2002 – and has declined to pass a term limit law for themselves ever since.
Back in 2002, legislators overrode a gubernatorial veto by the required two-thirds super-majority to repeal the citizen-imposed term limit law.
The survey finds that 84 percent of citizens favor term limits, only 13 percent oppose and 3 percent don’t know.
Republicans favor term limits, 85-14 percent; Democrats, 83-14 percent; and political independents favor term limits, 86-11 percent; Jones found.
The new poll also shows that most of the major officeholders in the state are given a thumbs up for their job performances – although the favorable ratings aren’t by large numbers, and even below 50 percent for some of them.
All major officeholders are Republicans.
Jones finds in a survey conducted March 20-26, 2015 of registered voters the following favorable/unfavorable ratings:
- Gov. “Butch” Otter, 50 percent have a favorable opinion of him, 40 percent unfavorable, 8 percent recognize his name but have no opinion, and 3 percent said they “never heard of him.”
- U.S. Sen. James Risch, 45 percent favorable, 23 percent unfavorable, 16 percent recognized his name, but no opinion, and 15 percent never heard of.
- U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo, 55 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable, 13 percent heard of him, but no opinion, and 6 percent never heard of.
- U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, 38 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable, 15 percent heard his name, but no opinion, and 18 percent never heard of.
- U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, 44 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable, 14 percent heard of him, but no opinion, and 14 percent never heard of.
The poll, of 606 Idahoans, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent.
So, half of Idahoans have a favorable opinion of their governor, Otter, and 55 percent like Crapo.
But all the other major officeholders are under 50 percent favorable, and those are not good numbers.
The best Idaho Politics Weekly can tell, no one has been polling on public officials’ job performance ratings for some time – even years.
So there are no numbers to compare how the current officeholders are doing, at least as their voters see them.
Still, across the country it is usually the case that major officeholders’ favorability ratings are over 50 percent.
But members of Congress sometimes fall below 50 percent, as that political entity has terrible job approval ratings as a body. Just about everyone hates the job Congress is doing.
While Otter and his GOP top officeholder colleagues may want all voters to like them, the public officials probably desire members of their own Republican Party’s affection the most.
Jones found that Idaho Republicans favored the officials: Otter, 72 percent; Risch, 61 percent; Crapo, 68 percent; Labrador, 50 percent; and Simpson, 51 percent.
IPW also wanted to know how some of the “minor” public officials were doing with citizens.
So we asked favorable/unfavorable on Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Secretary of State Lawrence Denney, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra.
Not surprising, these “minor” officials are not well-known among the populace, with many either recognizing their names but having no opinions or not heard of them and thus no opinion.
Little: 39 percent favorable, 14 percent unfavorable, 26 percent heard but no opinion, and 19 percent never heard of.
Denney: 29 percent favorable, 15 percent unfavorable, 29 percent heard but no opinion, 26 percent not heard and no opinion.
Ybarra: 21 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable, 29 percent heard but no opinion, and 19 percent not heard of and no opinion.
Finally, IPW decided to measure the favorable/unfavorable rating for the powerful lobbing group the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry following an incident last month where its president, Alex LaBeau, had a profane-laden email released.
The email criticized a leading GOP state senator, Jeff Siddoway, as well as using some profane language.
At first, the IACI board gave LaBeau a “wrist slap,” as the Idaho Statesman newspaper called it. But then took further action against him, including temporarily suspending him.
Anyway, Jones found that 21 percent of Idahoans had a favorable opinion of the IACI, 14 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the group, 23 percent had heard of the IACI but had no opinion, 36 percent had never heard of the group, and 6 percent said they “didn’t know” enough about the subject to have an opinion.
So, most Idahoans, whether than had heard of the lobbying group or not, had no opinion of their actions or, one can assume, the latest dustup by LaBeau.
However, that doesn’t mean that inside the hallways of the Idaho Capitol that LaBeau, who apologized to Siddoway and other legislators, doesn’t still have some fence-mending to do.