According to a recent poll performed by Sheriff Paul Babeu's hired hand, a plurality of likely GOP voters in Arizona's First Congressional District apparently don't care about the various allegations swirling about the sheriff's use of RICO funds.
Nor do these reputedly conservative voters — about 35.7 percent of the poll sample — give a flip that Babeu, 47, admittedly is living with a young male friend 25 years his junior.
Moreover, these same poll respondents are willing to overlook recently aired video of Babeu's laughing, smiling, and approving of the harsh tactics of a now-shuttered home for wayward teens in Massachusetts.
And, if this poll is to be believed, one-third of GOPers surveyed seemingly do not care that in 2012, Babeu was forced from the Republican primary in Arizona's Fourth Congressional District after it was revealed that he had: advertised for sexual partners on the gay pickup site Adam4Adam.com; allegedly sent a "dick pic" to a potential paramour he met through the site; and allegedly threatened his ex-lover, a Mexican national, with deportation, either directly, through his attorney, or both. Granted, the relatively small survey of 387 likely Republican voters, supposedly completed on March 30 by the OH Predictive Insights, was not an "informed poll."
That is, those polled were not reminded (or "informed" for the first time) of the trove of negative info about Babeu. Which may help explain why Babeu was the only candidate out of a field of seven to do better than single-digits.
The poll, with a 5 percent margin of error, does not state which parts of sprawling CD1 were surveyed. It also suggests that 37 percent of likely Republican voters in CD1 remain undecided.
The sheriff's next closest rival, businessman Gary Kiehne, garnered only 8.8 percent. Next up was former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, with 8.5 percent support. Trailing Bennett was former U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Rogers, with 4.4 percent.
Behind Rogers, Arizona House Speaker David Gowan — a dead ringer for actor David Koechner's goofy character Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — scored a meager 2.3 percent.
Pollster Mike Noble, who also happens to be Babeu's campaign consultant, breathlessly enthuses in OH Predictive Insights' April 6 press release that his client "continues to dominate the crowded CD1 field" and "enjoys a 76.4 percent favorability rating."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Noble's connection to the Babeu camp is left out of the press release.
Contacted by phone, Noble declined to comment for this article.
Noble's company, MBQF Consulting, was acquired by advertising firm Owens Harkey this year, according to a piece in the Phoenix Business Journal dated just a couple of days before these poll results were announced.
The article by PBJ reporter Mike Sunnucks notes, "Owens Harkey will envelop MBQF into a marketing subsidiary called OH Predictive Insights."
This bit of inside political baseball might be lost on some, according to Shane Wikfors, editor of the influential, conservative Sonoran Alliance blog, who is Rogers' campaign consultant.
"I was both surprised and disappointed to see that my fellow political consultant and rival did not disclose that he was also the general consultant for the Babeu congressional campaign in a recent poll conducted by Owens Harkey's Predictive Insight," Wikfors says.
"The poll should have included a disclaimer either stating it was an internal poll by the Babeu campaign or that Mike Noble plays a primary role in the campaign. Because of this failure to disclose, there is a serious credibility issue in its results and it should be disregarded."
Noble has produced polls for the Babeu camp before, with similar results.
But are Noble's polls wrong?
A poll done in January by Garrett Archer of Integrated Web Strategy showed Babeu with 40 percent support. Who paid for the poll remains unknown.
Given that Babeu has high name recognition, and regularly appears on Fox News as a commentator, where he hammers away at two favorite bugbears of Arizona voters — illegal immigrants and President Obama — the sheriff might be expected to be in the lead, despite the trail of slime that accompanies him.
Also, his fellow Republicans so far are acting quite unlike Republicans, declining to treat Babeu like that bear treated Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.
So far, only Rogers has taken a substantial bite out of Babeu, rhetoric-wise, calling him, in the wake of the Babeu tape's release by ABC 15, "an embarrassment" to the GOP and demanding that he remove himself from the race.
"Wendy's background as a social worker and being a mother and grandmother weighed on her to speak out," Wikfors explains. "When the new evidence broke [i.e., the video], she was disturbed no one else would speak out."
Indeed, the only other rival to make hay out of Babeu's misfortune is CD1's Democratic hopeful Tom O'Halleran, who took Noble's freshly-minted poll results and ran with them.
A recent fundraising e-mail sent out by vendor Blue State Digital on O'Halleran's behalf cited Noble's poll, and announced "a 24-hour emergency fund to stop Babeu's momentum."
See, CD1 Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is abandoning the tossup district to run against incumbent U.S. Senator John McCain. It's a given that the national Democrats will pour money into the CD1 general election contest to retain that seat.
And as Donald Trump has shown on a grander scale, the candidate who takes a plurality in primaries is not necessarily the ideal candidate for a general election.
So it eventually may turn out for Babeu, his current prominence in Republican circles aside.