Monday, July 21, 2008

July 2008 Rasmussen Poll Shows Mark Begich Leading Ted Stevens By Nine Points In Alaska U.S. Senate Race; McCain Leads Obama By Five

Update July 22nd to include reference to Daily Kos poll taken about the same time. Updated information posted in green.


According to a press release just posted on Mark Begich's official campaign website on July 21st, 2008, a new Rasmussen poll shows that Begich leads incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens by nine percentage points. This is a reversal of April's Rasmussen poll, and is more in line with previous Hays Research poll results. The only Alaska media to pick up on this so far is Alaska Report.

The poll, a telephone survey of 500 likely voters conducted on July 17th, shows Begich beating Sen. Ted Stevens 50 percent to 41 percent. According to Rasmussen Reports, when “leaners” are included, Begich leads 52 percent to 44 percent.

The Rasmussen poll gives Begich a 63 percent favorable rating, with 34 percent unfavorable. By contrast, 48 percent of Alaskans have an unfavorable view of Stevens. The poll also shows one in five Alaskan Republicans are supporting Begich.

According to the story on the Rasmussen website, this is a reversal of a previous trend, which showed Stevens with a narrow lead, and it may be a product of an aggressive statewide television ad campaign launched by the Begich camp on July 8th. For each of the last three months, the candidates have been within two points of each other. Last month, Stevens was up two, 46% to 44%. In May, it the incumbent trailed by two. The month before, Stevens had a statistically insignificant 46% to 45% lead. Begich’s current lead is the largest the race has seen since Rasmussen polling began.

However, before Begich confronts Stevens, he's got to get past his main Democratic opponent Ray Metcalfe. And that may be easier said than done. Metcalfe's campaign is beginning to pick up traction thanks to his "straight talk express" bus tours, in which he drives people around for three hours pointing out buildings where Mark Begich may have made some questionable real estate deals. Metcalfe may be still somewhat of a long shot, but he's definitely NOT cannon fodder, and his "magic bus" is already showing up in Begich's rear view mirror. Click HERE to find out about other Alaska candidates for Federal office.

A Daily Kos poll from the same time reports similar results. Mark Begich leads Ted Stevens 47 percent to 45 percent, Ethan Berkowitz leads Don Young 51 percent to 40 percent, and John McCain leads Barack Obama 51 percent to 41 percent. Daily Kos also seems to be writing off Diane Benson.

In the same poll, Alaskans were also asked about their Presidential preference. The survey shows that McCain now leads Obama 45 percent to 40 percent. Last month, the Republican candidate was ahead 45 percent to 41 percent.

When leaners are factored in, McCain still maintains just a 5-point lead 49 percent to 44 percent, according to the survey. This is the fourth month in a row where McCain’s lead has been in single digits. His biggest lead was 9 percent, recorded in April and May. Since then the race has tightened, although a Daily Kos poll from the same time still shows McCain with a 10-point lead.

There is a good reason why the race is tightening. While John McCain still contemptuously ignores Alaska, despite the fact that he is handicapped here by his chronic opposition to ANWR, Barack Obama continues to open up campaign offices throughout the state and actually now considers Alaska a battleground state, despite the fact that he also opposes opening ANWR. While I question whether Obama can actually take the state (but don't forget, Alaskans also elected another empty suit in Sarah Palin), McCain is stupid to completely ignore us. It could backfire.

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