AK-Sen: One More Poll Gives Murkowski the Edge

Ivan Moore Research (9/23-27, likely voters, no trendlines):

Scott McAdams (D): 28

Joe Miller (R): 43

Frederick Haase (L): 2

Lisa Murkowski (volunteered): 18

Undecided: 9

(MoE: ±4.1%)

We saw two polls yesterday finding Lisa Murkowski either winning or in a dead heat, but those polls made no mention of Murkowski’s unusual status as a write-in candidate, which should be viewed as a methodological problem. But now we have the first poll that seems to deal head-on with the write-in problem, and as an added bonus, it’s Ivan Moore, probably Alaska’s best-regarded local pollster. The result shows that Joe Miller might want to stop measuring the drapes.

Stay the same: 55

Write in Lisa Murkowski: 31

Not sure: 15

Scott McAdams (D): 14

Joe Miller (R): 36

Frederick Haase (L): 2

Lisa Murkowski (WI): 44

Undecided: 6

(MoE: ±4.1%)

So here’s what Moore did: his first round of questioning omitted Murkowski but permitted respondents to volunteer her; then he asked, as a follow up question “As you may know, Lisa Murkowski is running a write-in campaign for U.S. Senate. Knowing this, would your vote for U.S. Senate stay the same or would you write in Lisa Murkowski?” The second set of results are then re-computed based on prompted Lisa Murkowski votes. That still may not re-create the actual voting experience, where there isn’t a voice reminding you that Lisa Murkowski is running. But this still seems an improvement from just listing her with the other candidates.

Here’s Moore, with some circumspect analysis of what he tried:

Now, the reality of the situation is that neither of these results is going to be correct. The first should be perceived as a minimum for Lisa, the latter a maximum. The reality lies somewhere in between… the question is where? Personally, I think the second measure is what will happen in an ideal, impediment-less world, and should be adjusted downwards by what we’d reasonably expect the attritional effects of the write-in to be. I have always maintained these will be relatively minimal, maybe not much more than a few percent of people who somehow remain unaware come election day that Lisa is an option, or get her name wrong, or don’t fill in the oval, or decide they can’t be bothered to write a name.”

There are also results from the (comparatively uneventful) gubernatorial and House races.

Ethan Berkowitz (D): 35

Sean Parnell (R-inc): 53

Other: 6

Undecided: 6

Harry Crawford (D): 32

Don Young (R-inc): 65

Undecided: 4

(MoE: ±4.1%)

41 thoughts on “AK-Sen: One More Poll Gives Murkowski the Edge”

  1. Personally, I’ll be glad if Lisa can pull this one out – either way, looks like a GOP hold. Lisa has agreement from the Senate GOP leadership that she’ll caucus with them…with the added benefit of being a torn in DeMint’s side.  

  2. His mustache alone should be worth at least 10 points.  We need him election based on the mustache alone…

  3. …any Dem-leaning support Murkowski has really holds up.

    It’s a HUGE gap between 44 and 18, and knocking down McAdams’ support in HALF doesn’t look realistic at all.  The polls that offer Murkowski as a named choice all have McAdams in the 20s, and THOSE polls probably overstate her support since he’s advertising only NOW.

    I can imagine if loss of pork is THAT important to Alaska Dems that they might go ahead and write in Lisa’s name.

    But, frankly, she is worthless to us as Democrats outside Alaska.  We’re actually BETTER off with Miller than her, because he’ll be here embarrassing his own party for 6 years.  Murkowski will vote the same as Miller, but won’t hurt the GOP while doing it like he will.

    I still hope Lisa and Joe nuke each other.  Her first 2 ads avoid that and focus on informing voters she’s running as a write in.  She actually cannot win that way I think, she has to attack Miller, and Miller WILL attack her.

  4. “I have always maintained these will be relatively minimal, maybe not much more than a few percent of people who somehow remain unaware come election day that Lisa is an option, or get her name wrong, or don’t fill in the oval, or decide they can’t be bothered to write a name.”

    That all depends on how much effort Lisa puts into educating people how to cast a write-in ballot.  Right now, I’m not convinced she’s doing nearly enough.

    Her first ad as a write-in is 60 seconds of a talking head, with no instructions as to the write-in process:

    And her website offers no guidance at all.

    She’s got a month to fix it, but there’s little doubt in my mind that she needs to seriously ramp up the education process. Just like pollsters can’t poll her as a normal candidate, she can’t campaign like a normal candidate.  I remember Tony Williams’ 2002 write-in campaign for DC mayor, and 30-40% of his ads/mail/etc. was dedicated to drilling into voters’ heads HOW to write him in. It seems dumb, but voters can be pretty dumb.  

  5. This will of course be erode, as both Miller and McAdams go after her.

    Huh, a reverse of the FL-Sen scenario.  (FWIW, I’ve endorsed Crist.)

  6. The first poll understates it because write-in is not offered as an option, thus requiring the voter to contradict the person on the other end, which they might be shy about doing.  The second question though is the equivalent of saying, “Are you sure you don’t want the strawberry rhubarb? I just picked the ingredients from the garden out back this morning?” (With the caveat that the pie wasn’t on the menu in the first place)  I’m looking forward to the PPP poll that Kos is commissioning. That seems to get the methodology right by offering write-in as an option then asking the voter who if they select that.

  7. …courtesy of the Human Events email list I got on when I used to subscribe to the late Robert Novak’s email newsletter.

    Wish I hadnt deleted it but to summarize he pushed to have Murkowski stripped of her committees but the cowardly Republicans refused.  And Murkowski is a RINO.

    I think you can put her down as a vote for McConnell rather than DeMint for Majority Leader.

  8. Dear Friend:

    You’re not going to believe what happened this week. Just when I thought Republicans in Washington were beginning to get the message, they went back to business as usual.

    As you know, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican primary to her conservative challenger, Joe Miller, in a fair fight. But instead of graciously conceding and endorsing the Republican nominee, Murkowski announced that she will continue her campaign as an independent write-in candidate.

    Senate Republicans held a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon to elect someone to replace Senator Murkowski as the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Or so we thought.

    Rather than taking away Murkowski’s leadership position on the committee, Senate Republicans decided to let her keep it. One senator after another stood up to argue in favor of protecting her place on the committee – a position she will no doubt use in her campaign against Joe Miller, the conservative Republican nominee.

    Help SCF Stop the Alaska RINO

    It was bad enough to watch my colleagues work to support her in the primary after she had built a record of betraying conservatives principles. But watching them back her after she left the party and launched a campaign against the Republican nominee was more than I could bear.

    I spoke out against the motion and I voted against it. But the good ol’ boys’ club, which always protects its own, prevailed. The motion was adopted by secret ballot and the final tally was not disclosed.

    Keep in mind that I was attacked just last week by the Washington establishment for supporting Christine O’Donnell – a conservative – because they believe her nomination will hand the seat to a Democrat in Delaware. This week, however, that same establishment voted to help Lisa Murkowski – a moderate – defeat the Republican nominee, which could hand the seat to a Democrat in Alaska.

    Help SCF Stop the Alaska RINO

    The decision by Senate Republicans to hurt the conservative nominee in Alaska is certainly dispiriting, but it’s also a healthy reminder that we must keep fighting to elect new Republicans who won’t continue business as usual. If we’re going to change Washington, we have to change the people we send to Washington. It’s that simple.

    Join me today in supporting Joe Miller for U.S. Senate in Alaska. The Washington establishment is doing everything it can to help Lisa Murkowski hold on to power. The grassroots defeated her once in the primary election and we can do it again in November.

    Please contribute to the Senate Conservatives Fund. Senator Murkowski said the “gloves are now off” when she announced her write-in campaign against Joe Miller. By giving to SCF, we can run ads in Alaska that stop her campaign dead in its tracks.

    Thank you for standing up for freedom. Washington may not be listening now but it will be in November.


    Jim DeMint

    United States Senator

    Chairman, Senate Conservatives Fund  

  9. Her 2nd and 3rd ads both released today involve voter education that she’s running as a write-in and explains how to vote for her.

  10. Because, with her in the lead, or even anywhere near it, she’s gotta play defense against Joe Miller as well.

  11. Can’t really do it until there’s full guidance from the election officials (or a court) as to what constitutes a sufficient write-in vote, which will also depend on how many other Lisas, Lizas and Minkowskis run.

  12. When Shelly Sekula-Gibbs started her write in bid?  I remember being shocked she did so well as a write-in that year.  And anyone know if Delay was still on the ballot?

  13. …$1.9 million.  I don’t know why that figure is in my head, but it is.  That’s not so huge at all for CA, but it’s not chump change even there.

  14. If McAdams can establish himself as someone who can get in the mid-to-high 20’s, Democrats are going to come home to him (although there aren’t that many of them in Alaska to begin with.)

    If McAdams does not move closer to Miller and Murkowski over the next couple of weeks (after his first round of advertising), and is stuck in the teens or low 20’s, independents/soft Democrats will leave him en masse for the more palatable of the two candidates they perceive can win–namely, Murkowski. That’s why I absolutely agree with you–if McAdams is going to make this a true 3-horse race, he’s got to build up support now. If he doesn’t, this could approach CT-Sen-06.

  15. to rely on that assumption.

    I’m sure Murkowski’s campaign is well aware that write-in candidates rarely do as well in the voting booth as they do in surveys.  So they are touching first base before running to second: making sure the electorate knows that she, the INCUMBENT, is still in the race, and how to vote for her.

    Second base, which the media is doing a fine job helping her attain, is to publicize polls showing her as a serious contender.

    Third base, as you allude, is to make Miller look like some rich cheechako lawyer who doesn’t care if Alaska sinks or swims.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a radio ad bringing up his fish and game tags, which would tie into this theme nicely.

    And to slide into home, she needs to make sure D-leaners believe McAdams is HER spoiler, rather than vice versa, and that voting for him risks the unacceptable outcome of an Alaskan voice railing against pork in the Senate.

    McAdams can’t stop (1), and he shouldn’t stop (3), but (2) and (4) need to be countered aggressively.  Obviously he needs to blanket the state with feel-good bio ads to shoot up his name recognition and make people associate his name with a wholesome all-Alaskan image rather than just “the Democrat.”  But just as importantly, he needs the electorate to believe that HE is the ONLY viable alternative to Miller, and the only way I can see to “prove” that is to publicize a lot of polls showing him solidly second and Murkowski solidly third.  Maybe there’s another way; if anyone can think of one I’d love to hear it.

    So I think McAdams would do well to play up Moore’s silent-on-Murkowski result (43/28/18), and try to generate more like it.  It strikes me as a reasonable starting point for the race, and his explicit-Murkowski result (36/14/41) seem like what will happen if Lisa dominates the conversation and Scott can’t get a word in edgewise.

    Another reason for cautious optimism I see in the data is that Miller’s numbers out of the gate are lower than I had expected: with explicit mention of Murkowski he got 30, 36, 38, and 42.  Granted, the actual ballot will make no explicit mention of her, but by then she’ll have made $2 million worth of mention of herself… AND how poor a choice Miller would be.  (I thought Miller would start in the low to mid 40s, with a mentioned Murkowski in the mid 20s, and he’d have to be dragged down from there.)

    Naturally, I’m also crossing my fingers for a ballistic missile exchange between the two Republicans, and sitting at my keyboard in California I agree there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them to me.  But when I think about all the Alaskans I know whose jobs are to some extent dependent on federal spending… I’m actually a little relieved it isn’t my call to make.

  16. For some reason I thought the question concerned CA-Sen, not AK-Sen.  I’m a little scatterbrained today!

  17. she dropped $1.9M on the ad andgarden linked below, that certainly counts as a substantial commitment to write-in education.  $1.9M buys a lotta TV in AK.

    Still think that her logo/lawn signs should read “Write In Lisa Murkowski – US Senate.”  

  18. I realize that you’re trying to bait me, but I’m not interested. As I have said many times, I enjoy this site for the intelligent and friendly discussions – it’s better than most other political websites – right or left. I was offering my opinion on this race. If that is prohibited then I shall cease to do it going forward.


  19. Appears clear (even moreso after the Wexler endorsement earlier this week) that if Meek cannot show viability by Oct. 15 or so Dems will have no choice but to support Crist in order to try to keep Rubio out and Meek will crater.

  20. We’re simply laying down the rules. Comments about personal candidate preferences are generally not welcome, but they are especially unwelcome from Republicans. You can analyze the race all you want, but your personal desires have to stay out of it.

  21. User James L is one of the moderators on this site. AFAIK, he has never “bait”ed a user. And he did not “bait” you.

    Users James L, DavidNYC, Crisituity, and JeffMD run this site — and are clear about their rules. (though I wish they’d put it in writing on a dedicated page) They are open about SSP as a D leaning site for election analysis.

    As a D leaning site, they are open about what is effectively a “double standard” for Rs on this site, as “guests.”

    And they are quick to suspend and ban users who violate their rules.

  22. And AK as a Republican state is a pretty good comparable to CT as a Democratic state, if not a better example of this being possible than when it actually did happen in 06. The GOP had a lot more drop-off in CT 06 than what would be necessary in AK 10 for the Dems.

    Although I don’t think this will happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

  23. There were 2 elections the same day: a special election for the last 2 months of Delay’s term between Lampson, Gibbs, and a 3rd party, and the general election for the next two years which only featured Lampson and the 3rd party dude. Gibbs ran as a write in for that because there was no Republican on the ballot.

  24. the two votes were on the same day, and one position’s candidates list showed people Sekula-Gibbs’s name while the other asked them to spell said name.

  25. And, of course, there was no one with an (R) next to their name in TX-22, like there is this time, so writing in SSG was truly the only choice for anyone who wanted to vote Republican.

  26. I think most likely the opposite of what we want will happen – Dems in Florida will stick with Meek but in Alaska they will go with Murkowski to stop Miller.

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