ANCHORAGE - Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams doesn't just have to campaign to win over undecided voters. He also needs to stop people who might have otherwise helped him from joining Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in campaign.
Polls released last week show the Republican Murkowski has significant support among Democrats and independents who might otherwise vote Democratic. She decided to run for re-election as a write-in candidate after the Republican primary to Joe Miller, who is aligned with the tea party movement.
"There were two schools of thought prior to (Murkowski) jumping in," said Anchorage pollster and political consultant Ivan Moore. "The first was that Lisa would split the Republican vote and lead to the Democrat winning. The second was that Lisa would basically split the anti-Miller vote and basically decimate Scott McAdams' chances. The second is very much what's happening."
Moore often works for Democrats but urged Murkowski to get into the race as a write-in. Another Anchorage pollster and consultant, Jean Craciun, also released a poll this week in which she said 30 percent of registered Democrats who responded were supporting Murkowski and another 15 percent were undecided. Craciun's poll was of "super-voters" who'd voted in three of the last four elections.
Polling in this race is problematic. Just because people might choose Lisa Murkowski when offered her name as an option in a poll doesn't necessarily mean the same percentage will take the step of filling in a write-in oval and writing her name when faced with a ballot.
Polls also showed Murkowski comfortably winning the Republican primary, and she lost. The most recent polls - Moore, Craciun and another poll from CNN/Time - now show Miller in the lead with Murkowski closely trailing, or, in the case of Craciun, Murkowski leading. All showed McAdams a distant third.
The Alaska Democratic Party dismisses the polls as flawed and says that "this race is wide open." Party officials, though, are all too aware of Democratic-leaning voters considering a vote for the Republican Murkowski because they think she has a better chance of beating Miller.
McAdams said Murkowski is wrong on the issues and doesn't stand a chance of winning. "The mechanics of a write-in campaign just won't work for Lisa Murkowski," he said in an interview last week. "It didn't work for Ernest Gruening (who tried to reclaim his U.S. Senate seat in 1968) when he was the founding father of Alaska ... and it won't work for Lisa Murkowski.
"And what I would say to any Democrat in this state is that Lisa Murkowski has voted with the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell 90 percent of the time," McAdams said. A key claim by the Miller campaign is that Murkowski too often votes with the Democrats.
The Washington Post database on congressional votes shows Murkowski has voted with a majority of her Republican colleagues in 81.8 percent of her 605 votes.