Gov. Bill Walker has a tough re-election season ahead of him, and he’s looking to share a bit of good news with Alaskan voters.
He claims to have found that “good news” in a poll conducted for his campaign by a liberal polling firm hired out of Portland.
Walker didn’t release the actual question or who answered it, but he squeezed news out of it. It’s from a February poll, one that Jim Lottsfeldt, a Democratic-focused strategist, was shopping around to politicos several weeks ago. Lottsfeldt partners with Patinkin Research and lives and works much of the time in Portland.
Patinkin, which recently did work for the Stand for Salmon initiative to shut down development in Alaska, gives Walker/Mallott a 3 percent lead over contenders Mike Dunleavy and Kevin Meyer. Dunleavy is a Republican candidate for governor, and Meyer is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
That 3 percent advantage is within the margin of error for any poll with a sample size of 1,200.
But the Patinkin poll contacted just 600 respondents, according to Walker/Mallott. That means the poll likely has a greater margin of error than the three-point victory that Walker is claiming.
The Walker campaign called it a striking result. Some 50 percent of Democrats support Walker, according to the poll.
But that’s his base, and it means 50 percent of Democrats are not supporting him, political pundits said this morning.
And fully 64 percent of all respondents are not with the Walker/Mallott camp — or are not yet willing to commit.
That is actually the most striking news of all, said Tuckerman Babcock, chairman of the Alaska Republican Party: An incumbent whose face is in the daily news cycle does not yet have the confidence of 64 percent of the electorate.
“Even their own propaganda poll they are pushing shows 64 percent of Alaskans want someone else. The best he could do is a third of the vote? In the most biased polling he could buy, it still confirms what other legitimate polls have shown, and that is how hopeless his campaign is this year,” Babcock said.
The poll is a clear shot at Mark Begich, the former mayor of Anchorage and former U.S. Senator, who is making the rounds and lining up commitments. Walker is worried that Begich is jumping in as a Democratic challenger and is trying to signal to Begich that he has half of his voters.
And to release this poll is an indication that his campaign either thinks Dunleavy is the frontrunner on the GOP ticket or is trying to push him as such for Walker’s own strategic calculations. Perhaps Walker’s campaign thinks he can beat Dunleavy in the General Election, but not Scott Hawkins or Mike Chenault, the two other Republican candidates.
It’s also an indication that Walker intends to stay unaffiliated, rather than join the Democrat primary ballot.
“To share a poll to show that you are ‘in the running’ when every reputable poll shows ‘you’re done’ is a sign of desperation. I hope the governor’s whole campaign is based on his fantasy.” – Tuckerman Babcock, Alaska Republican Party
“We are excited and humbled by the momentum the Dunleavy campaign continues to build,” said Brett Huber, campaign manager for Alaskans for Dunleavy. “We’ll continue to share Mike’s message for an optimistic future for Alaska. In the end, the only poll that matters is the one in November, when voters make their choice.”