Libertarian Bid Would Look Good For Murkowski

August 30, 2010 5:39 am

Republican Senate hopeful Joe Miller is leading Democratic nominee Scott McAdams in a new survey of Alaska voters by Public Policy Polling (D) taken after Miller’s surprise showing in last week’s primary.

Miller is not the nominee, though thanks to tea party support and a Sarah Palin endorsement, the conservative political upstart leads Sen. Lisa Murkowski by 1,668 votes. There are nearly 20,000 absentee ballots outstanding and Team Murkowski believes she has a shot at retaining her seat, though it will be weeks before a result is determined.PPP’s poll, taken Friday and Saturday, shows Miller leads McAdams 47-39. But it also shows that if Murkowski did decide to mount a bid as a libertarian (as has been discussed) she’d make a strong showing: Miller 38, Murkowski 34, McAdams 22.

If Murkowski prevails after the absentee count, she would likely coast to reelection. This poll shows Murkowski leads McAdams 60-28.

The survey of 1,306 likely voters has a ±2.7% margin of error.

There is no TPM Poll Average of this race because there was so little polling in the leadup to Tuesday’s primary, but you can see Alaska polls here.

PPP’s Tom Jensen writes:

Joe Miller’s surprise victory in the Alaska Republican Senate primary has given Democrats at least a marginal opportunity for a pick up this fall, although that will fade if Lisa Murkowski stays in the race for the general as the Libertarian candidate.

Miller leads Scott McAdams 47-39. McAdams is counteracting several of the trends causing Democrats trouble across the country this year. He’s running even with independents at 42% and he’s benefiting from a more unified party, getting 81% of the Democratic vote while just 73% of Republicans are committed to Miller. In most states that equation would be enough for the lead but in Alaska, where there’s an 18 point Republican party identification advantage, it leaves McAdams running behind.

The reason for the closeness of the race is Miller’s unpopularity. 52% of voters in the state have an unfavorable opinion of while only 36% see him positively. Democrats (84%) are almost universal in their dislike of him and independents array strongly against him as well by a 54/32 margin. His poll numbers within his own party are positive but somewhat tepid at 57/32. Miller is the latest in a long line of candidates unpopular with the general electorate that Republican primary voters have nominated this year joining Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Ken Buck. But this political climate may just be GOP friendly enough that all those folks get through in the fall anyway.

Jensen added, “Despite her shocking loss on Tuesday Murkowski remains one of the most popular Senators in the country in PPP’s polling with her 50% approval rating placing her in the 90th percentile of the 52 Senators we’ve looked at this year.”

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