Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Dittman Poll Shows Lisa Murkowski Would Clobber Sarah Palin 57-33 Percent In Prospective 2010 Alaska U.S. Senate Race
One of Alaska's three top pollsters has taken the state's political temperature - and finds that U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is a hotter prospect for a 2010 U.S. Senate Race than Governor Sarah Palin. Full story with video aired January 5th, 2009 by KTUU Channel 2. Some national pundits have picked up on this, including HotAir.com and Free Republic.
Dave Dittman, who along with Ivan Moore and Hays Research is considered one of the three most prominent AND reliable pollsters in the state, just finished a statewide survey on a possible Palin vs. Murkowski matchup, and found that Murkowski garnered 57 percent to Palin's 33 percent. Nine percent said they were not sure. This poll was addressed at greater length on The Alaska Standard, to include a demographic categorical breakdown.
Not reported by KTUU, but separately addressed on The Alaska Standard, was the results of another question asked on the same poll. Respondents were asked if they approved of the performances of Murkowski and Palin so far, and 76 percent approved of Murkowski, while only 60 percent approved of Palin. But previous approval polls also show Palin around 60 percent, so she seems to have bottomed out and stabilized.
How does this contrast with previous polls, which were discussed on this December 21st post? On a KTUU Channel 2 "unscientific" poll conducted on December 2nd, respondents said they would pick Senator Murkowski over Governor Palin by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. But even though KTUU's poll is "unscientific", a respondent can only vote once, so it is not necessarily unrepresentative. Consequently, it looks like Dittman's poll validates KTUU's "unscientific" methodology. In contrast, a Research 2000 poll commissioned by Daily Kos showed the opposite result, with Palin beating Murkowski 55-31 percent. Although Daily Kos is a hard-left progressive website, Research 2000 is not known to be biased. But Dave Dittman does question their methodology, although he would not give specifics.
The Palin Administration was quick to respond. Palin spokesman Bill McAllister once again disavowed any intent by Governor Palin to challenge Senator Murkowski for her Senate seat in 2010, saying, "It's unfortunate that we keep talking about this rivalry that doesn't exist. She has not said, and I don't think needs to say, that she's going to rule something out in terms of her political plans in the future. But she's very focused on being governor now, does not see herself as a rival to Senator Murkowski."
And this is probably a good thing, according to Dittman. He says that considering Murkowski's popularity, Palin would not be wise to challenge Murkowski. "And I think there would be a feeling, too, of overreaching -- going too far, too aggressive, too much too soon -- if Sarah decided to run for Senate," Dittman said. "When you've already got someone there with seniority, who most people think is doing a good job, I think it would be a huge mistake."
Analysis: I agree with Dittman - it would be utterly ludicrous, and politically suicidal for Sarah Palin to challenge Lisa Murkowski for her Senate seat in 2010. It's good that she's backing away from it; even her own re-election as Governor is not exactly a slam dunk.
But it does look as if Palin has bottomed out. Not only is her approval rating now stabilized in the 60 percent range, but she passed two recent tests of political integrity in both the Levi Johnston apprentice situation and Sherry Johnston's prosecution. In both cases, it has been shown that Palin herself did not get involved in the outcome.
But the ugly legacy of Troopergate will not vanish overnight, and Governor Palin must realize that the burden of proof of integrity will remain squarely upon her shoulders for the foreseeable future.