Republican Gov. Sean Parnell is the only candidate tested in a Public Policy Polling survey of the 2014 Senate race released Thursday who does not trail Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, in a head-to-head trial heat.
Begich, who won election over then-Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, in a close and controversial 2008 race, is relatively popular, with 49 percent of those polled saying they approve of the job he is doing and 39 percent saying they disapprove.
Opinions on Parnell are more mixed, with 46 percent of respondents approving and 44 percent disapproving.
Parnell and Begich each garnered 48 percent in PPP's trial heat testing the two politicians against one another.
Meanwhile, if he runs for reelection next year as governor instead, Parnell appears to be the favorite, leading all prospective challengers PPP tested. The closest hypothetical gubernatorial matchup is with former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, who trails Parnell with 41 percent of the vote against the governor’s 50 percent.
In the Senate race, Begich leads Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who has announced an exploratory committee for a Senate bid, with 47 percent to Treadwell’s 39 percent.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan fares slightly better, marshalling 41 percent support to Begich’s 47 percent.
Fairbanks attorney and unsuccessful 2010 candidate Joe Miller has the worst numbers of any Republican tested. PPP found Begich would beat him with 58 percent of the vote to just 30 percent for Miller.
PPP also found that Democratic President Barack Obama, who failed to carry Alaska last year but came the closest any Democrat has to winning the state since 1996, has a negative approval rating in the state, with 52 percent of respondents disapproving to 44 percent who said they approve.
The poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday and surveyed responses from 1,129 Alaskan voters. It has a margin of error of 2.9 percent for the general election matchups.
Of the candidates tested in the poll, only Begich has indicated he will run for election. Parnell has said any announcement on running for Senate or seeking reelection will wait until after this year’s legislative session, while Treadwell has suggested that he may run for governor if Parnell gets into the Senate race.