Saturday, February 8, 2014

Alaska's Senate Race: Polling

Public Policy Polling (PPP) released their latest poll in Alaska, earlier this week.   Alaska has a Senate seat that the Republican Party is hoping that they can win this year.  Democratic Senator Mark Begich (43% approve, 44% disapprove) is up for re-election.  I am now obligated to tell you that Begich is a moderate Democrat, who supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), same sex marriage, and gun rights.  He is also pro-choice and enjoys walks along Alaska's coast.  Alaska has had three declared Republican challengers to his seat.

In this corner, you have failed 2010 Senate candidate Joe Miller (16/62) who believes that the 17th Amendment should be repealed and that Senate elections should be a product of the state legislature.  Unfortunately, PPP does not release polling on how Alaska's state legislature feels about Miller. In the second corner, you have former Alaska Attorney General and Alaska Department of Natural Resources chairman, Daniel S. Sullivan (31/35). Finally, we have current lieutenant Governor of Alaska, Mead Treadwell (33/31). I guess, I will casually mention that Ted Stevens had initially declared for the 2014 election, but he passed away in a plane crash in 2010.

PPP does a poll of Alaska Republican primary voters to give us an accurate snapshot of the race in the Republican primary.  We see that it is a pretty close race.

Joe Miller
20
Dan Sullivan
30
Mead Treadwell
25
Someone else/Not sure
25

PPP does a breakdown of who was polled ideologically in the primary.  

Very liberal
2
Somewhat liberal
5
Moderate
23
Somewhat conservative
33
Very conservative
37

How do the candidates fare within the ideology groups?


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very conservative
Miller
12
13
11
20
28
Sullivan
44
23
28
32
30
Treadwell
12
27
20
30
23
Someone else/not sure
33
37
41
18
20

The Republican primary has changed a little bit since the last time that PPP polled there at the end of July.  Treadwell has lost support from nearly every section of the Republican Party, meanwhile Sullivan has picked it up.  Treadwell's loss of support is interesting because his favorability among Republican primary voters has remained vitrually identical.  Sullivan's net favorability has increased by 3 points.  Because of this, I find Treadwell's somewhat troubling, but largely illusory.  I think Treadwell is the favorite to be the GOP nominee, for the time being.  If Treadwell sees more decline over the next few months, he'll obviously not be the nominee.  But I imagine his support will pick back up again, shortly.

But, now that we looked at the GOP primary, it's time to turn our attention to the general election.  

Mark Begich
45
Joe Miller
25
Someone else/not sure
29
Mark Begich
41
Dan Sullivan
37
Someone else/not sure
22
Mark Begich
43
Mead Treadwell
37
Someone else/not sure
20
We can see from the head to head match-ups that Miller should not be the GOP nominee if they are serious about winning what looks like a fairly winnable election.  

These polls look eerily similar to what was happening the last time PPP polled Alaska.  The biggest difference being that Begich has lost his cushion that he had with Sullivan, going from a 7 point lead to a 4 point lead, despite Sullivan losing 2 points of support.  3 points of support for Treadwell went from him to the someone else/not sure pile since July.  But the difference between Treadwell and Sullivan in the general election is essentially meaningless as they fare about the same against Begich based on ideological factors.  


Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very Conservative
Begich
70
77
58
19
3
Sullivan
8
10
23
52
73
Someone else/not sure
23
13
21
28
24

Very liberal
Somewhat liberal
Moderate
Somewhat conservative
Very Conservative
Begich
70
74
61
20
5
Treadwell
8
11
21
58
69
Someone else/not sure
23
15
18
22
26
This is relying on data that forecasts 7% of the electorate as very liberal, 16% as somewhat liberal, 32% as moderate, 23% as somewhat conservative, and 21% as very conservative.  

If the Republican Party wants to win this Senate seat, they'll need to do two things.  First, they'll need to focus on appealing to the moderates of the Alaska electorate, to cut into the lead that Begich has with them.  They will also need to focus on a Get out the vote effort for the Republican party, to get it closer to 50% of the voters being somewhat or very conservative.  If they can do those two things, they'll be able to take this Senate seat.  But until I see evidence of that, I will feel confident in predicting that Begich will be re-elected.  



    

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