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September 19, 2008

Palin-Mania Not Enough In Alaska

Apparently, putting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the Republican presidential ticket was enough to take the state's electoral votes out of play, but it may not be enough to save embattled Republicans running for re-election.

A new poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog DailyKos surveyed 600 likely voters between 9/15-17 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Incumbent Ted Stevens, the Republican, and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, the Democrat, were tested in the race for Senate, while Rep. Don Young was matched up against former state House Democratic Leader Ethan Berkowitz.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Berkowitz......53 / 87 / 19 / 60 / 48 / 58
Young..........39 / 6 / 75 / 31 / 45 / 33

Begich.........50 / 87 / 14 / 57 / 46 / 54
Stevens........44 / 6 / 82 / 36 / 49 / 39

McCain/Palin...55 / 12 / 86 / 54 / 59 / 51
Obama/Biden....38 / 84 / 7 / 38 / 34 / 42

Barack Obama's early interest in competing in Alaska has all but disappeared. Obama's campaign initially sent staffers to the state, and some polls even showed the Democrat within striking distance of John McCain. But once McCain picked Palin, the Republican ticket jumped to what looks like an insurmountable lead.

Just because the state's electoral votes look like a lock for McCain doesn't mean the state's Congressional delegation is safe. The investigation into influence-peddling by oil services company VECO Corp. has taken a measurable toll on both Stevens and Young. 58% of Alaska voters see Young in a negative light, while 56% see Stevens unfavorably.

Stevens, under indictment for offenses related to the VECO scandal, faces a trial in which jury selection begins on Monday. Young has not been indicted, but is reportedly still under investigation.

Young won his primary last month by just a few hundred votes, as his primary opponent, Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, conceded earlier this week. Parnell would have been the stronger general election candidate, though. Included in this survey, Berkowitz led Parnell by a 48%-43% margin.

Expect the next survey to show Young closing the gap with Berkowitz at least a little bit. Because it took three weeks for Parnell to concede, this poll included matchups between Berkowitz and both Republicans. Polls taken before primaries tend to capture a fractured base. After the post-primary healing process, the party with the primary usually gets a boost.

Berkowitz and Begich are seen favorably by 56% of Alaska voters, according to the poll.