Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alaska Campaign 2010: DRM Market Research Poll Shows Sean Parnell And Ethan Berkowitz Far Ahead In Respective Gubernatorial Races

If Alaskan voters had their way right now, incumbent Republican governor Sean Parnell would square off against Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz in the November 2010 general election, according to a poll of 375 likely Alaska primary voters conducted by DRM Market Research. While the media story was published by the Juneau Empire, the complete numerical breakdown was found on State News Shot. And so it's the breakdown with which we lead off:

Governor, Republican Primary
-- Sean Parnell: 57 percent
-- Ralph Samuels: 9 percent
-- Bill Walker: 7 percent
-- Other: 1 percent
-- Undecided: 26 percent

Analysis: A May 6th Rasmussen poll indirectly reflects this preference, showing that Parnell would beat Berkowitz in a general election by a larger margin than Ralph Samuels. Parnell would also beat either Hollis French or Bob Poe by larger margins than Samuels. The other three Republicans in the gubernatorial race are Gerald Heikes, Sam Little, and Merica Hlatcu, but they are considered anecdotal candidates.

Governor, Democratic Primary
-- Ethan Berkowitz: 48 percent
-- Hollis French: 17 percent
-- Bob Poe: 8 percent
-- Other: 4 percent
-- Undecided: 24 percent

Analysis: The May 6th Rasmussen poll also indirectly reflects this preference, and in the same order. Berkowitz would lose by narrower margins than either French or Poe.

Lieutenant Governor, Republican Primary
-- Jay Ramras: 16 percent
-- Eddie Burke: 10 percent
-- Mead Treadwell: 8 percent
-- Other: 1 percent
-- Undecided: 66 percent

Analysis: The 66 percent Undecided makes this a wild card race. However, the initial trend clearly shows that Eddie Burke is a serious AND electable candidate, contrary to the picture portrayed in the Anchorage Press on May 12th, where pollster Dave Dittman refused to even mention him, and pollster Ivan Moore characterized Burke as unelectable.

Lieutenant Governor, Democratic Primary
-- Diane Benson: 45 percent
-- Denise Michels: 5 percent
-- Other: 3 percent
-- Undecided: 47 percent

Analysis: Despite the 47 percent Undecided, this race is already in the bag. Denise Michels is a more electable and less polarizing candidate who is well-respected in Nome, but Benson has far too much name recognition and way too much of a head start. This race is Benson's, so long as she can avoid another Linda McCarriston fiasco. In that case, Benson, then a student at UAA, witch-hunted McCarriston and tried to get her fired from UAA over her controversial poem, "Indian Girls", but the community rallied to McCarriston's side. McCarriston provided her own response HERE.

Reaction: The Juneau Empire recorded responses from some of the principals:

-- Ralph Samuels: The Samuels campaign debunks the poll, claiming that the DRM numbers aren't even in the same ballpark as their own numbers.

-- Bill Walker: The Walker campaign said that DRM's numbers tended to agree with their own, but support for Walker increases when voters learn of Walker's proposal to build an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline to a Valdez export terminal. On his website, Walker cites an April Craciun poll which shows that while 77 percent of respondents support his All Alaska Initiative, only 39.6 percent support that TransCanada AGIA proposal touted by Parnell, and only 40 percent support the competing large diameter Denali Pipeline project proposed by BP and Conoco Phillips. Samuels opposes the big AGIA pipeline and supports a small-diameter "bullet" line.

-- Eddie Burke: Is reportedly pleased with the results, saying that it shows he's very much in the race. Burke plans on launching a commercial, which he thinks will tighten up the race further.

The filing deadline for candidates is June 1st, and the Alaska primary election takes place on August 24th.

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