Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New Hellenthal Poll Shows Tony Knowles Closing The Gap On Sarah Palin In Alaska Gubernatorial Race

A report on KTUU Channel 2 Anchorage about a gubernatorial candidate forum hosted by State Farm Insurance also reported on a Hellenthal poll taken recently to determine the degree of support for the major gubernatorial candidates. Further investigation, to include a Google Blog Search for Sarah Palin (pictured at left), led me to the An Alaskan Abroad Blog, where the blogger revealed specific numbers, based on information from Bradner's Legislative Digest, which is mentioned on the Resource Development Council website. The blogger apparently saw a paper copy of this digest, because the online version doesn't contain the Hellenthal poll results. However, the Resource Development Council, in their September 2006 Newsletter, contains statements from the three major candidates outlining their respective visions, which might be of interest.

An Alaskan Abroad reveals that the Hellenthal poll taken last week and obtained by Bradner's Legislative Digest shows Republican Sarah Palin with 46.7 percent of the vote, Democrat Tony Knowles at 40.8 percent, a marked increase over a Dittman poll taken the week before, and Independent Andrew Halcro at 8.6 percent. The biggest change between the two polls is that the margin of undecided voters was smaller in Hellenthal (3.9 percent) compared with Dittman (22 percent). Knowles has jumped from 29% in the Dittman poll to 38% in the Rasmussen poll to 41% now. KTUU reported that Marc Hellenthal says those results, which were done confidentially for a client, are based on a smaller sample than he eventually gathered, but he said they are essentially accurate.

By the way, regarding the candidate forum, only Andrew Halcro discussed any real specifics. Halcro stated “I want a governor who stands before you and when they talk about health care, they actually provide health care for their employees and they can actually talk from experience about their premiums going up 16.2 percent last November. Somebody who talks to you about workers’ compensation actually has workers’ compensation rates that are going up every year”. In contrast, Sarah Palin and Tony Knowles tended to restrict themselves to boilerplate soundbites.

Analysis: It's tempting to dismiss this Hellenthal poll since previous Hellenthal polls were so wrong about John Binkley. However, what I warned about in my post about the Rasmussen poll seems to be coming to pass; people are noticing how specific many of Knowles' proposals on his website are compared to Palin's comparatively nebulous proposals. In addition, Tony Knowles has launched a slick but folksy T.V. ad campaign during the past two weeks. This has not really been countered much by Sarah Palin.

However, Andrew Halcro's insistence on specifics is benefiting him, as he's surged to near double-digits in this poll. Both Halcro and Knowles are now hacking away at Palin; Knowles the "good" guy, and Halcro the "bad" guy. Sarah Palin needs to start taking specific stands on issues such as the proposed capital move and not merely tell us that she'll do what the people want or the legislature wants. This is her election to lose - let's not allow Teflon Tony to backdoor his way into the Governor's Mansion for a third time.

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