Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Alaska U.S. Senator Ted Stevens And Congressman Don Young In Serious Electoral Danger According To Research 2000 Poll
The Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog alerted me to an opinion poll discussed in a December 10th, 2007 Daily Kos post. This poll indicates that, if the general election were held today, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich and former Alaska Democratic Majority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (pictured at left) would be replacing Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young, respectively.
The poll, commissioned by the Daily Kos, was conducted by Research 2000 during the period December 3-6. Key questions asked:
(1). If the 2008 election for Congress were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Ethan Berkowitz, the Democrat, and Don Young, the Republican?
Young (R) 42 percent
Berkowitz (D) 49 percent
Strength of Conviction: Measures name recognition and degree of commitment:
Ethan Berkowitz: 45 percent Favorable, 18 percent Unfavorable, 37 percent No Opinion. The high "No Opinion" indicates limited name recognition outside of Anchorage, so many people haven't enough information to form an opinion. One advantage; with over twice as many people favoring him as "unfavoring" him, this means he has an over 2-in-1 chance of winning the support of anyone who gets to know him politically.
Don Young: 40 percent Favorable, 54 percent Unfavorable, 6 percent No Opinion. Very few people are neutral about him. High Unfavorable ratings are working against him.
(2). If 2008 election for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Mark Begich, the Democrat, and Ted Stevens, the Republican?
Stevens (R) 41 percent
Begich (D) 47 percent
Strength of Conviction:
Mark Begich: 48 percent Favorable, 19 percent Unfavorable, 33 percent No Opinion. Almost identical situation to that of Ethan Berkowitz.
Ted Stevens: 39 percent Favorable, 58% percent Unfavorable, 3 percent No Opinion. The negative relationship between Favorable and Unfavorable makes him vulnerable to a marquee candidate. Mark Begich would be a marquee candidate. Ted Stevens is in trouble.
Although the poll was commissioned by a liberal venue, the results are similar to those revealed from other polls.
What must make it more galling for Ted Stevens is that Mark Begich (pictured at left with his family) is neither a declared nor an undeclared candidate yet. He's simply announced that he is not ruling out a possible run for the U.S. Senate. Daily Kos offers an interesting prediction, though: They believe that if Begich decides to run, he won't announce his candidacy until sometime between March and May. However, they claim that if he decides not to run, he'll announce that decision before the end of 2007. So if we hear nothing in the next three weeks, look for a strong possibility that Begich will run.
Poll Methodology: The Research 2000 Alaska Poll was conducted from December 3 through December 6, 2007. A total of 600 likely voters who vote regularly in state elections were interviewed statewide by telephone.
Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county. The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The Alaska Division of Elections lists most of the additional candidates for Federal elective office. Already declared:
Rocky Caldero (Democrat): A seafood processing manager who serves on the Unalaska City Council, he is a genuinely moderate Democrat who seems like a stand-up guy. Has a decent platform. Too bad he'll get swallowed up by the bigger fish, but the experience will be good for him.
Ray Metcalfe (Democrat): The most prominent of this bunch. Panned as an ethics gadfly because of his relentless pursuit of former State Senator Ben Stevens, the trial and conviction of three former state lawmakers vindicates him...somewhat. No relation to Jake Metcalfe, either biologically or ethically.
Frank Vondersaar (Democrat): A perennial candidate whose primary claim to fame is that he's "anti-fascist", a distinction shared with only about 95% of the population. Additional holdover websites from previous campaign HERE and HERE.
Gerald Heikes (Republican): A resident of Palmer who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, getting 0.25 percent of the vote in the primary. To supplement the sparse information on his website, click HERE to find out more about his positions on social issues.
Ted Gianoutsos (Veterans Party): Not on the ballot, circulating nominating petitions in order to get on the ballot. The premier advocate for veterans in the race.
Diane Benson (Democrat): An insurgent type candidate who finished just 17 points back of Don Young in 2006 despite being exponentially outspent. As a former Green Party member, she's considered the "hard lefty" of the lot. Her son got seriously wounded while serving in Iraq.
Jake Metcalfe (Democrat): Fairly prominent former two-term Anchorage School Board member and former Alaska Democratic Party state chairman. Extremely close ties with organized labor. Considered a "machine" politician. No relation to Ray Metcalfe, either biologically or ethically.
Gabrielle LeDoux (Republican): A former Democrat who represents the Kodiak and Lakes & Peninsula Borough area of Alaska in the State House. Considered a moderate. Opposed to the Pebble Mine despite the fact that it would create 1,000 full-time jobs and diversify the economy in an area disproportionately dependent upon fishing and tourism.
Seniority Considerations: This poll indicates that the seniority card played by Ted Stevens and Don Young is being trumped by too many factors. Not only is there too much hint of scandal becoming attached to their names, but the change from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress has compromised their ability to use that seniority to deliver the "goods". Despite their seniority, ANWR still isn't open, the Gravina Island Bridge has been indefinitely shelved, and the Knik Arm Bridge isn't exactly a slam dunk. Alaskans don't expect to be represented by "choirboys" - so long as they can deliver the goods. When they stop delivering, character comes under closer scrutiny.
Trading Don Young for Ethan Berkowitz will cause a major loss in seniority, and despite Berkowitz' personability, his House comrades will treat him like a rookie. He'd be lucky to get us table scraps for the first term. In contrast, Mark Begich might get a stronger hand to play in the Senate. During a recent trip to Washington, Begich was seriously "romanced" by several Democratic senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid. It is quite possible that they might implicitly promise Begich some better committee assignments than a rookie might ordinarily get in order to strengthen Begich's hand.
And one final question from the poll: Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as President? 57 percent of Alaskans said No, 42 percent said Yes.
This poll also discussed at TPM Election Central.