Monday, June 09, 2008

Hellenthal Poll In Alaska Shows Mark Begich Leading In The Senate Race, But Mixed Results For Ethan Berkowitz In The House Race

A new Alaska poll conducted by Hellenthal & Associates indicates that Democrat Mark Begich could defeat incumbent Republican Ted Stevens in the general election. But it also shows mixed results for Democratic House candidate Ethan Berkowitz, who would clobber Republican incumbent Don Young but lose to Republican challenger Sean Parnell by a narrow margin.

Inexplicably, the same poll shows that Parnell would defeat Young in the August 26th Republican primary by only a narrow margin. Full story published June 9th, 2008 in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and picked up by the Anchorage Daily News newsreader.

National pundits taking note of this include the Wall Street Journal and Congressional Quarterly's Polltracker. Another site to consider is Election Inspection, where red-blue state race polls are monitored.

Complete list of all Alaskan candidates for Federal office HERE.


- U.S. Senate Republican Primary: Specific numbers not given, but Ted Stevens would defeat principal challenger Dave Cuddy by only 15 percentage points. However, 42 percent of respondents did not know who Dave Cuddy is.
- U.S. Senate General Election: Mark Begich 51 percent, Ted Stevens 44 percent. Very few "undecideds".
- U.S. House Democratic Primary: Ethan Berkowitz 42 percent, Diane Benson 30 percent. But 29 percent are still undecided.
- U.S. House Republican Primary: Sean Parnell 37 percent, Don Young 34 percent. Gabrielle LeDoux is starting to get a bump, with 8 percent. Only 15 percent undecided.
- U.S. House General Election: Ethan Berkowitz 58 percent, Don Young 38 percent.
- U.S. House General Election: Sean Parnell 43 percent, Ethan Berkowitz 38 percent.

Reliability: These numbers are similar to those uncovered in other polls. However, Hellenthal got a black eye in 2006 when they completely blew the call on the Alaska Republican Gubernatorial Primary race, releasing a poll which showed John Binkley leading over Sarah Palin at a time when all other pollsters showed Palin in command. Palin, of course, won handily. Consequently, Hellenthal can be considered fourth on the Alaska depth chart of pollsters, behind Dave Dittman, Ivan Moore, and Hays Research (listed in order of perceived reliability).

Strength of Voter Commitment: A measurement of the strength of opinions expressed by respondents:

- Mark Begich: 58 percent positive, 16 percent negative.
- Ted Stevens: 49 percent positive, 40 percent negative.
- Don Young: 35 percent positive, 52 percent negative.
- Sean Parnell: 46 percent positive, 8 percent negative.
- Gabrielle LeDoux: 12 percent positive, 10 percent negative. Over 50 percent of respondents did not know who she was.
- Ethan Berkowitz: 41 percent positive, 13 percent negative.
- Diane Benson: 35 percent positive, 12 percent negative.

The Hellenthal poll was conducted during the period May 6-10. It has a 6 percent margin of error. Out of 290 respondents. half of them reported no party affiliation or were registered Independents, while registered Republicans comprised 27 percent and registered Democrats made up 22 percent. The survey was paid for by Sam Kito, a lobbyist whose clients include the North Slope Borough.

Analysis: A couple of interesting background anomalies:

(1). Although Sean Parnell could defeat Ethan Berkowitz, he would have a tough time getting past Don Young. This indicates that there are a number of diehard Don Young loyalists remaining within Republican ranks. Don Young has a residual appeal to those Alaska Republicans who want to tell Outsiders to keep their noses out of Alaska's business. However, corporate Alaska is switching their support from Young to Parnell. Not only has the Associated Builders and Contractors endorsed Parnell, but the Club for Growth has also extended their support. The Club for Growth's explanation can be read HERE; Don Young's response, in which he characterized them as being Outsiders who know nothing about Alaska and who are unrepresentative of the Alaskan people, can be read HERE. One big reason the Club for Growth turned against Young is because they hate earmarks; they maintain a list of incumbent Federal lawmakers who've sworn off earmarks HERE.

Another measure Parnell could take to strengthen his hand is to induce Gabrielle LeDoux to exit the race and, if possible, even endorse him. LeDoux's 8 percent implies that she has some stroke, but her gross lack of name recognition makes her campaign hopeless. LeDoux's endorsement would strengthen Parnell's appeal in rural Alaska and rebut allegations that Parnell is nothing more than a sockpuppet for Sarah Palin.

(2). Conservative Alaska Republicans face a dilemna with Dave Cuddy. On the one hand, Cuddy is clearly much more conservative than Ted Stevens, and is a better all-round candidate. On the other hand, Ted Stevens is much more competitive against Mark Begich. Cuddy's lack of name recognition at this point makes him little more than cannon fodder against Begich.

To correct this, Cuddy must immediately shotgun some name recognition statewide. The first step is to identify and secure a core constituency as a power base from which to proceed. His campaign website gives us hints as to which direction to proceed. Cuddy is pro-business, pro-liberty, and pro-choice in education. But he's also pro-life, opposing abortion except for life or health reasons. And it's the latter where he should start, by reaching out to and corraling the "values voters". He should get Alaska Right to Life, the Alaska Family Council, and Eagle Forum Alaska on his side. They have established track records in influencing and mobilizing "values voters". Afterwards, he can then concentrically reach out to the business community and the pro-sovereignty constituency.

And Cuddy should be highly attractive to the pro-sovereignty community. Unlike Ted Stevens, who is weak on immigration, with Americans for Better Immigration giving him a letter grade of "C-", Dave Cuddy is strong on immigration reform, opposing any amnesty for illegals. He believes the path to citizenship for illegals should lead BACK OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. After securing a power base, Cuddy must then unleash a massive advertising campaign, to include targeting the state's leading T.V. station, KTUU Channel 2, to generate instant name recognition.

Conservative Alaskans like myself are just looking for an excuse, ANY excuse, to support Dave Cuddy. But we're not going to support someone who thinks like us, yet runs the risk of losing authoritatively to Mark Begich in November. Cuddy needs to show us that he can compete against Begich to win our support.

1 comment:

  1. The primary was held in August, three months after the poll results by Hellenthal & Associates showing Binkley ahead of Palin and Murkowski. Hellenthal never had poll results showing Binkley ahead of Palin after that. ~KHT