October 20th, 2010
04:30 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN/Time Poll: All tied up in Alaska Senate race

(CNN) - A new poll indicates a dead-even race in the Alaska battle between Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller and GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who's running for re-election as a write-in candidate. But a CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also suggests that confusion or frustration over the write-in procedure could cost Murkowski crucial votes in her bid to keep her seat.

Full results (pdf)

According to the poll, 37 percent of likely voters in Alaska say if the election were held today, they would vote for Murkowski, with an equal amount saying they'd cast a ballot for Miller, and 23 percent saying they'd vote for Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the Democrats' Senate nominee. Miller and Murkowski were also deadlocked in a CNN/Time poll conducted late last month.

Murkowski, who is part of a political dynasty in Alaska, was upset in the August 24 GOP Senate primary by Miller, a previous long-shot who enjoyed strong support from Tea Party activists and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Last month Murkowski announced she would run as a write-in candidate in the general election.

While most Murkowski voters say they know how to properly cast a write-in vote and are unlikely to defect at the last minute to Miller or McAdams, the few who may spoil their ballots or change their minds when confronted by a complicated ballot may mean the difference between a win and a loss for Murkowski.

Only six percent of Murkowski voters say they are not very confident that they understand the correct procedure for writing in a candidate's name on the ballot. "But in a close race, that handful of votes that Murkowski may lose due to complicated write-in procedures may be enough to knock her out of first place," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "If the six percent of Murkowski voters who aren't very familiar with the write-in procedure cast votes for her that don't actually count, the poll indicates that she would only get about 34 percent in the final election tally - probably not enough to win."

Only one in ten Murkowski voters say they are likely to vote for one of the candidates on the ballot if the write-in procedures are different or more complicated than they anticipated. "Take those Murkowski votes out of the equation, and her tally might be down to 33 percent," says Holland.

"Polls can only measure who the voters plan to cast a ballot for - not whether those votes will actually be counted. In nearly all elections, that so-called 'spoiled ballot problem' is not a concern for candidates or pollsters. But pollsters in Alaska shouldn't assume that every respondent who plans to support Murkowski will actually cast a vote that will count on Election Day," Holland adds.

According to the poll, nearly two-thirds of Democrats say they support McAdams, with just over one in three saying they back Murkowski. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans support Miller, with 37 percent supporting Murkowski. Four in ten independent voters back Murkowski, with 32 percent supporting Miller and just under one in four backing McAdams.

"Murkowski's best showing is in Anchorage and in the Panhandle," says Holland. "Miller does best in Fairbanks, his home turf, and in the region surrounding Anchorage, including the Kenai Peninsula and the Mat-Su Valley, the home base of Sarah Palin."

In the state's gubernatorial contest, 62 percent of likely voters say they'd vote for Republican Gov. Scott Parnell if the election were held today, with 36 percent saying they'd vote for former state lawmaker Ethan Berkowitz, the Democratic nominee. Parnell's 26 point lead is up from a 19 point advantage in last month's poll.

Parnell, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2006, assumed the governorship in the summer of 2009 when Palin stepped down.

According to the survey, 62 percent of likely voters in Alaska disapprove of the job President Barack Obama's doing in the White House, with 34 percent saying they approve of how he's handling his duties.

The CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 15-19, with 1,508 adults in Alaska, including 1,328 registered voters and 946 likely voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for likely voters.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: 2010 • Alaska • CNN/Time poll • Joe Miller • Lisa Murkowski • Polls
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Concerned Voter

    Ha! I can see the egg on Palin's face if Murkowski wins. That's what she gets to trying to elect looney extremists with questionable pasts.

    October 20, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. barry

    That means Senator Miller will win by 10 points. She can't win a write in by being even. Sorry little Liberal Lisa you're fired!

    October 20, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. stufthis

    But Miller already has met with DeMint and has housing in DC. I did enjoy Miller refusing to debate with the other candidates.

    October 20, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Alaskans are already the national and world joke state for voting for that helf term governor . If they vote for miller they will really be known as the most stupid state since SC and you can't go any lower than SC.
    It's been proven that miller has lied, he's taken subsidy money in KS and he has goons working as body guards not allowing the "real" press to ask him question or they will end up in handcuffs.
    Oh yes, miller and his people do know all about nazi Germany. Never mind that stupid wall he wants to build. Does he even realize what the size of the Berlin Wall was? Can these teabaggers be any more stupic? Never mind, yes and every time they open their mouths they show us how clueless they are about everything. We want these people making laws for us?

    October 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom(real one)

    This is SO funny! Just this past August CNN was predicting a "Republican Sweep" but....... but........ not so much! Democrats have been gaining steadily in the polls. Why? Because America remembers who drove the American Economy into the ditch! We, remember that it was after ......8 years....... of a GOP president........ and 12 years (1995-2007) of GOP controlled Congress that our Nation's economy crashed!

    Joe Miller is a NUT....... not to mention his idea that the "Communists in the Soviet Union were right to build a wall" ...... this nutcase does not realize the "Wall" kept people IN and was a symbol of Soviet domination!

    Alaska .......... send the Democrat to the Senate! Scott Adams is the only sane candidate. Thanks!

    October 20, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Polls don't mean alot, and telling Alaskans that our ballot is too confusing for a Write in Vote. Give me a break, the only choice for Alaska is LISA MURKOWSKI and we know ow to color! Voter intent is what matters, in a questionable ballot. Anyone that writes in LISA MURKOWSKI is not questionable, the voter intent is there. GO LISA, GO ALAKSANS! We are making history!

    October 20, 2010 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. LacrosseMom(real one)

    You know, I was just watching "The Ed Show" (MSNBC) his first story was about a hateful and vile attack ad, from "Personhood Colorado" an anti-Choice group. Since President Obama was elected, by ....54%....... of Americans, each day I have read on these blogs hateful things about Obama, his wife and his person. I have called the Conservatives out on their ......HATE........ towards the President of the United States. I have said, that the HATE is veiled racism from the "Right".

    Now a TV ad, from a so-called-Christian anti-Choice group depicts President Obama as the "Angel of Death"...... the ad sent chills through me. Never........ever......... will I forget the HATE that Conservatives have spewed against the first African-American president!

    Conservatives, YOU, should be ashamed of yourselves! This ad is PURE HATE, PURE LIES. I am disgusted and deeply disturbed.

    PLEASE COLORADO, speak up against this HATEFUL "ad"!

    October 20, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. shannon

    Joe miller is a thug, who has his hired help rough up reporters who dare ask him questions. He's opposed to unemployment and governemnt health care, but he and his wife have taken both. He's had ethical problems at work, he wants to get OUR fiscal house in order, but he owes tens of thousands of dollars on his personal credit cards. Who would vote for such a loser, besides another loser.

    October 20, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Get ready for a whole bunch of time and money wasted by Miller challenging Murkowski's win based on mispellings of her name...

    October 20, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  10. George of the jungle

    vote the lying repos out. Please show the world that not all alaskans are a stupid as palin. move forward not backwards vote democratic in november

    October 20, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  11. John

    Joe Miller is UNQUALIFIED to be in the U.S.Senate. SARAN PALIN back him people,she quit on you ALASKA people that right there enough not to vote for him.

    October 20, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Willy Brown

    Another smoke and mirrors article from liberal CNN spinsters for Lisa.

    October 20, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |