Friday, September 12, 2008

Alaskan Backlash Against Federal Witch Hunt Of Ted Stevens Continues To Build; Rasmussen Poll Shows Stevens Only Two Points Behind Mark Begich

As vindictive and desperate Federal prosecutors continue to employ every possible strategem to make an example out of Alaska's senior U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, to include piling on of additional marginal charges and deliberately obstructing the discovery efforts of Stevens' defense counsel, A growing number of Alaskans are realizing that any pretense of justice in this case has long since been abandoned. The Feds are out to get Ted Stevens by any means necessary, just as they were out to get Shaun Walker, Travis Massey, and Eric Egbert in Salt Lake City last year, and just like they were out to get Dr. Steven Hatfill (and they're going to pay Hatfill a healthy chunk of change for their persecution of him).

Alaskans are now circling the wagons around Ted Stevens, and are expressing their outrage to pollsters. Recently, local pollster Ivan Moore revealed that a once 17-point gap between Stevens and his Democratic opponent Mark Begich had precipitously shrunk to 3 points. Now, Rasmussen reports that the gap has shrunk further, to a mere 2 points:

Mark Begich: 48 percent
Ted Stevens: 46 percent

This poll is also discussed on the Anchorage Daily News' Alaska Politics blog. Rasmussen reports that Stevens has made his biggest gains among unaffiliated voters. In late July, 23 percent of unaffiliateds supported the embattled incumbent, with the vast majority backing Begich. Now 36 percent of unaffiliated voters support Stevens while the Democrat’s numbers are unchanged.

But what about strength of support? The relationship between Committed Supporters, who tend to rate Very Favorable, versus Casual Supporters, who tend to rate Somewhat Favorable, is important because committed supporters are less likely to change their minds. Ted Stevens is viewed at least somewhat favorably by 52%, including 26% who rate their opinion of him as Very Favorable. Mark Begich is not much different; while he's viewed at least somewhat favorably by 61%, only 28% say they have a Very Favorable opinion of the Democrat. So Ted Stevens partisans are nearly as committed as Mark Begich partisans. An aggressive ad campaign reminding voters of his seniority and its beneficial financial results for Alaska, launched after his indictment in late July, has also helped fuel the Stevens resurgence.

However, strength of opposition is a different story. While only 16 percent of respondents registered a Very Unfavorable view of Mark Begich, 29 percent have a Very Unfavorable view of Stevens. This means that Ted Stevens has nearly twice the amount of hard-core opposition as Mark Begich. So while Ted Stevens is making a good comeback and turning it into a tossup, Stevens has little room for error. The least problem, like a conviction in the upcoming trial, could turn it into a landslide for Mark Begich. In contrast, Begich has more room for error, so, unless he's caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy (neither of which appear particularly likely at this point in time), he will remain competitive throughout the rest of the campaign.

Click HERE to view the original 28-page Ted Stevens indictment in PDF format. Additional gifts the Feds allege were not adequately reported include a $1,000 sled dog, a $3,200 stained-glass window, and a $2,695 massage chair. Related Anchorage Daily News links include the defense's statement of the case and the government's statement of the case

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