New poll shows Miller, Murkowski tied

Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010

A new CNN-Time poll shows the state's hot U.S. Senate race a dead heat between Republican nominee Joe Miller and Republican write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, with Democrat Scott McAdams somewhat further back.

The poll also shows district regional and racial differences, with Murkowski winning some of the votes that McAdams would need to win in a Republican-dominated state.

The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on Oct. 15-19, showed Miller and Murkowski dead even at 37 percent each, with McAdams at 23 percent.

McAdams spokesperson Heather Handyside disputed the poll's methodology, which included Murkowski's name. At the polls, voters won't be offered the write-in candidate's name, and will have to take the extra step of writing it on the ballot themselves, something the CNN-Time and some other polls have not reflected.

"We were upset when these polls came out, that's not an accurate reflection of how voters behave," Handyside said.

The CNN-Time poll may have had some more troubling news for McAdams than its methodology, however.

It showed that Murkowski was taking significant votes from Democrats and Southeast Alaska residents, areas in which he should be strong.

While McAdams was getting 65 percent of Democratic voters, compared to 2 percent going for Miller, 31 percent of Democrats were going for Murkowski. Even among self-described liberals, Murkowski was getting 27 percent.

Murkowski has a relatively strong lead in Southeast, with 39 percent, compared to McAdams 31 percent and Miller at 26 percent.

McAdams and Murkowski were expected to do well in Southeast, with McAdams' roots in Sitka and Petersburg, and Murkowski's roots in Ketchikan and time in the Alaska Legislature in Juneau.

The Southeast's sampling error was plus or minus 8.5 percent, reflecting the small numbers in the region to be surveyed. The poll itself has a sampling error of 2.5 percent, based on 1,508 respondents.

Miller did most strongly in the area outside Anchorage, including the Mat-Su Borough and Kenai Peninsula, where he polled 53 percent support, higher even than his home in Fairbanks, where he was receiving 43 percent of the vote.

Murkowski is leading Miller in Anchorage, a city she once represented in the Legislature, by 40 percent to 32 percent, with McAdams picking up only 24 percent.

Handyside said she had not yet reviewed the poll's regional breakdowns.

More troubling for McAdams may be that he is only receiving 21 percent of the non-white vote, which in Alaska typically means Alaska Natives. Murkowski was receiving 47 percent of those votes, following a strong push by Alaska Native organizations for Murkowski.

"She's enjoyed the strong support of the Alaska Native community, and that's a huge block of voters," said Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski.

Miller was receiving 30 percent of the non-white votes. His campaign did not return a phone call from the Empire.

Gender differences didn't appear to play much of a role in Murkowski's support, but Miller showed strength among men and McAdams among women.

Miller had 41 percent support among men and 32 percent among women, while McAdams saw the reverse, with 20 percent among men and 26 percent among women.

The most notable difference in voters ages was in those 65 and older, who were supporting Miller by 39 percent and Murkowski by only 29 percent.

"That's interesting considering Joe has made some very contradictory statements about his support for social security and Medicare," Wackowski said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at

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