Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CNN/TIME October 19th Poll Shows Joe Miller And Lisa Murkowski In Dead Heat; Sean Parnell Opens Up 26-Point Lead On Ethan Berkowitz

CNN/TIME commissioned Opinion Research to take Alaska's political pulse once again, and the latest results show a dead heat between Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski in the U.S. Senate race. Local media outlets now picking up the story include ADN Alaska Politics, Alaska Dispatch, and KTUU Channel 2.

The poll was taken from October 15-19, before the story about the confrontation between Joe Miller's hired security staff and Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger went viral. It provides split results between 946 Likely Voters and 1,328 Registered Voters (there is obvious overlap). View the Crosstabs HERE. Here are the results of Likely Voters:

-- Joe Miller (R): 37 percent
-- Lisa Murkowski (RINO): 37 percent
-- Scott McAdams (D): 23 percent
-- No Opinion: 2 percent
-- Neither: 1 percent

This represents a slight change from the Sept. 24-28 poll which showed Miller with a two-point lead. The "death by a thousand cuts" being inflicted upon Miller (exacerbated somewhat by Miller's own deficient public relations skills) is having an effect, and I doubt that the timing of this poll permits it to reflect the full effect of the confrontation at Central Middle School.

The poll of Registered Voters only is quite similar, showing Murkowski with a two-point lead.

The CNN/TIME poll also measures the governor's race, and basically, it looks like it's time for Ethan Berkowitz to piss on the fire and call in the dogs. Berkowitz' strategy of marketing himself as a left-of-center Republican is not working, despite the fact that Berkowitz is an intelligent man who strives to reach beyond his core constituency and is a veritable incubator of thoughtful ideas. Not even the intervention of Gasline Bill Walker is helping Berkowitz. Sean Parnell's lead over Berkowitz has surged from 19 percent in the Sept. 24-28 poll to 26 points today. Of the Likely Voters:

-- Sean Parnell (R): 62 percent
-- Ethan Berkowitz (D): 36 percent
-- No Opinion: 1 percent
-- Neither: 1 percent

Numbers for Registered Voters only are quite similar.

Conservatives4Palin tries to put a positive spin on Miller's results. They claim Murkowski's supporters are wavering because only 80% of Murkowski's supporters ruled out the possibility of voting for another candidate if they found the procedure for casting a write-in vote is different or more complicated than expected. But C4P is not considering the damage inflicted to Miller's campaign by the security dustup at Central Middle School. Many commenters to the ADN story said they were switching from Miller to Murkowski as a result. Maybe they'll cool down and not follow through. But maybe they won't -- particularly if Miller makes any more public relations mistakes. Many people were offended by the fact that while Joe Miller maintains an embargo on personal issues with the Alaska media, he was willing to discuss his Fairbanks employment with CNN's John King. One would think a smart Alaska candidate would take care of the home folks first.

Joe Miller is already fighting back. On October 20th, he filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over an independent political action committee that's backing Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid. In his complaint, Miller argues that because several of the Native regional corporations that have donated to Alaskans Standing Together are federal contractors, they're barred from participating in politics. Alaskans Standing Together have tried to whitewash the presence of Murkowski's name on their form as a "mistake". But Joe Miller must repair his relationship with the Alaska media if he wants to pull this race out; already, 40 Republicans, most of who are former members of the Republican Party's central committee and other party officials, have just signed a letter urging him to start answering questions from the news media and voters about his background and qualifications to serve. Prominent signatories include Rep. Jay Ramras, Ralph Samuels, and Hugh "Bud" Fate. It should be noted that many of the signers are supporting Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign.

The bottom line -- Joe Miller needs to stop treating the Alaska media like they're the enemy. Most of them don't behave like Tony Hopfinger.

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