Disputed Alaska Poll Puts Pro-Life Joe Miller in Third, Court Helps Murkowski

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2010   |   12:27PM   |   Washington, DC

A new poll puts pro-life Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller in third place despite his leading the polls over the last month. Meanwhile, the state’s high court helped pro-abortion write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.

A Hays Research Group poll released Thursday showed a “write-in candidate” beating both Miller and pro-abortion Democratic candidate Scott McAdams.

The survey had the write-in, presumably Murkowski, leading with 34 percent to 29 percent for McAdams and 30 percent for Miller. However, the poll came under fire to surveying adults — not likely or even registered voters.

Miller had a high 68 percent unfavorable rating in the new poll after poor coverage in recent weeks in the press, despite the new endorsement from a pro-life group.

But when CNN surveyed likely voters last week, Miller and Murkowski tied at 37 percent each while McAdams had 25 percent. And a Rasmussen poll just before that showed Miller leading 35-34 percent over Murkowski with 27 percent backing McAdams.

“I can easily believe Joe Miller is in trouble, but I’m a little wary about that new poll,” National Review’s Jim Geraghty said in response to the survey.

“In 2008, Hays Research final poll in the Senate race between Democrat Mark Begich and incumbent Republican Ted Stevens had the race looking like a near-blowout: Begich 48.3 percent, Stevens 40 percent,” he noted. “But on Election Day, Stevens fell just short, 46.5 percent to Begich’s 47.8 percent.”

“They also had the GOP presidential ticket with the current governor barely ahead: McCain-Palin at 46.6 percent, Obama-Biden at 43.9 percent,” he added. “On Election Day, McCain-Palin won easily with 59.4 percent of the vote, Obama-Biden took 37.8 percent.”

“So while it’s quite possible that Miller’s numbers have taken a tumble, I am skeptical that his circumstances are as dire as the Hays poll suggests,” he said.

Miller is getting help from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has started running television commercials in Alaska to the tune of $564,000, according to Politico.

Meanwhile, Murkowski received some help in a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court, which held that voters may see a list of the write-in candidates when voting. There has been some concern for Murkowski that voters would not be able to spell her name correctly — and those votes don’t count for her unless voters spell it right.

 The high court ruled quickly after attorneys for the state Division of Elections petitioned for a review of the ruling issued against seeing the list that Anchorage Superior Court Judge Frank A. Pfiffner handed down.

Pfiffner had granted a temporary restraining order stopping state election officials form giving voters the list of names, saying that action “smacks of electioneering at the polls.”

The high court issued an emergency stay and will deliver its final ruling as early as today.

The Alaska Democratic Party sued Monday over the issue and the Republican Party of Alaska joined the lawsuit. [related]

 The political web site Real Clear Politics says the outcome of the race is unclear.

“There is a huge amount of uncertainty in this race, given the controversies swirling around Joe Miller and questions about the ability of Lisa Murkowski supporters to spell her name correctly on the write-in ballot.  It’s possible — but by no means probable — that these factors could conspire to give Scott McAdams a narrow victory,” it said.