The first shot was fired by Miller's campaign manager Paul Bauer the day after the poll was released. Bauer called the Anchorage Daily News and said Moore’s numbers on the race were “garbage”, explaining that he doesn't trust Moore's polling and that the Miller-Murkowski survey was added to questions paid for by Democrat Ethan Berkowitz.
Subsequently, a lengthier statement of rebuttal was posted on Joe Miller's official campaign website. The Miller campaign insists that campaign internal polling among likely Republican primary voters indicates a far different story, although no numbers are supplied to back up that contention. Here are the pertinent portions of Miller's statement:
Even if Moore's poll were taken at face value, it indicates that 54% of respondents had not yet heard of Miller. Miller polled at 65% among the 46% that did. Bauer pointed out as the election draws near and voters focus in on the election, Joe’s name recognition will continue to grow. "The campaign rolled out statewide ads a few weeks ago. We believe as voters learn about Joe and his positions and how their 'Republican' Senator Murkowski has been voting in Washington, the ranks of our supporters will continue to swell. Joe is being well received all over the state."
But from where is Miller getting the 65% figure? Here's what we get from that part of the poll (read the raw poll data HERE):
-- Very Positive: 4.9 percent (32 votes)
-- Somewhat Positive: 13.4 percent (87 votes)
-- Neutral: 14.6 percent (95 votes)
-- Somewhat Negative: 6.3 percent (41 votes)
-- Very Negative: 6.5 percent (42 votes)
-- Joe Who? 54.3 percent (351 votes)
Note that this question was asked of ALL RESPONDENTS, and not just of Republicans. First, I subtract the 351 votes from the grand total of 648, which leaves me with 297. Then I add up Very Positive and Somewhat Positive, and divide that total by 297. I get 40.1 percent, different from the 65 percent claimed by Miller. So from where does Miller get his 65 percent total? If I decide to be charitable and add the Neutral vote with the two Positive totals, then divide by 297, I get 72.1 percent, which is not 65 percent. So at the very least, Miller's claim of 65 percent is confusing.
Now for the next pertinent part of Miller's statement:
It is interesting that a prominent Democrat [Ethan Berkowitz] running for governor commissioned an Ivan Moore poll on his race during the same time-frame that Moore says he piggy-backed off of other work he was doing for unnamed clients to come up with numbers for the Republican primary race. If our sources are correct, it is not surprising that Murkowski would have a 30-point lead over Miller among Democrats and left-leaning independents. The Miller Campaign categorically rejects Moore's suggestion that his numbers are indicative of the actual Republican Primary race. It is sad that the media feels compelled to report on unscientific findings. The Anchorage Daily News, The Los Angeles Times, and any other outlet that picked up this non-story should immediately print a retraction.
Sorry, but the poll numbers do NOT indicate a 30-point lead among Democrats. Here's the specific poll question and the numbers:
1I. (IF REPUBLICAN OR REPUBLICAN BALLOT-CHOOSERS OR UNSURE/REFUSED, THEN ASK...) If the 2010 Republican primary election was held today, and the candidates were ________ (READ LIST), for whom would you vote for U.S. Senate?
-- Lisa Murkowski: 61.8 percent (187 votes)
-- Joe Miller: 29.6 percent (90 votes)
-- Undecided: 8.6 percent (26 votes)
The total is only 303, far less than the overall total of 648. So these totals do represent Republican or Republican-leaning votes, although it is possible that some Democrats, knowing that Scott McAdams has the Democratic nomination bagged and tagged, might be temporarily crossing over to vote for Murkowski. But if Murkowski would be a tougher opponent for McAdams than Miller, why would they cross over?
I have observed Ivan Moore's polling for over a decade, and I can attest that his results are nearly always in the ballpark. Only Dave Dittman exceeds him in accuracy. Just because he's hired by Democrats doesn't mean he gives out slanted results; the Democratic candidates wouldn't trust him enough to keep hiring him if he didn't strive for honest results.
At best, Joe Miller's rebuttal raises more questions than answers. This type of imprecision and confusion has been characteristic of his campaign; note the uncertainty about his previous job with the Fairbanks North Star Borough. While Joe Miller has clearly established that he voluntarily resigned from the position, it is still unclear if he is eligible for re-hire. That should have been nipped in the bud from the outset. At least Joe Miller handled the Tea Party Express controversy well, though.
But Joe Miller clearly has a steep uphill struggle to overhaul Lisa Murkowski. His supporters may be far more enthusiastic than "Lisa's Legions", but are there enough of them, and can they turn out in sufficient numbers on August 24th?