Poll shows Miller decline, possible Murkowski lead

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010

A new Senate poll from Anchorage's Hays Research Group shows Republican nominee Joe Miller sliding rapidly, but with both his challengers gaining.

Tops in the poll was "write-in" at 34 percent. That's likely mostly for incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was followed by Democratic nominee Scott McAdams of Sitka at 29 percent.

Republican nominee Joe Miller was at 23 percent. There were 13 percent undecided.

An earlier Hays poll had also found Miller's support at 23 percent, several points below what other publicly available polling showed.

Other recent polls showed the race between Miller and Murkowski, with McAdams well behind the Republicans.

The McAdams campaign issued a release Thursday touting the candidate's success in the survey.

"Alaskans are solidifying behind my campaign," McAdams stated in the release. "As we get closer to Election Day more and more Alaskans recognize I am the only candidate who will always put Alaska before party politics and personal ambitions."

However, the release criticized the poll's methodology, suggesting it overstated Murkowski's support.

"The survey does not appear to account for potential errors or mistakes that typically accompany write-in efforts, which could amount to as many as 10 percent of ballots cast," spokesperson Heather Handyside stated in the release.

Miller's campaign did not respond to requests for comment by phone and e-mail Thursday.

The survey has a margin of error of 4.4 percent, Hays Research said. It was not conducted for any campaign.

The big change in this week's Hays poll was McAdams' strengthening support. Depending on how many write-ins go for Murkowski, that poll could indicate the race is neck-and-neck between Murkowski and McAdams.

The poll was conducted on Oct. 25 and 26, following the Miller campaign security team handcuffing a reporter trying to ask Miller questions.

It was before the full release of Fairbanks North Star Borough records showing that Miller had admitted lying to his supervisors about accessing co-workers' computers for political activity.

Among the Hays poll's most striking showings was Miller's favorability rating, which was 60 percent very unfavorable and a combined somewhat and very unfavorable rating of 68 percent.

In contrast, both Murkowski and McAdams were viewed by 55 percent of Alaskans very or somewhat favorably.

Alaskans Standing Together, the Alaska Native Corporation-backed independent group backing Murkowski touted its own poll showing Murkowski far in the lead.

Murkowski claimed 43.5 percent support in the AST poll, compared to 29.1 percent for Miller and 22.7 percent for McAdams.

Its poll shows a clear trend of Murkowski gaining momentum while Miller declines, it said.

AST's pollster, Mark Hellenthal, said his poll showed a sharp drop from the previous week for McAdams.

"As other candidates target Scott McAdams with negative ads, his previous positive momentum was reversed sharply," Hellenthal said in the poll's summary.

The Hays poll, conducted of 500 registered voters, was paid for by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547, which authorized the release of the Senate portion of the results. It has endorsed McAdams.

The Hellenthal poll of 400 respondents, was paid for and released by Alaskans Standing Together.

Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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