An Alaska Survey Research poll finds the ranked-choice voting scenario passed by Alaska voters in 2020 helps incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her reelection bid against Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka.
The Aug. 16 primary will have all candidates appearing on the same ballot, after Ballot Measure 2 took the Republican ballot away.
Ballot Measure 2 is a convoluted new voting method that was advanced by Murkowski surrogates in 2020 with millions of dollars of Outside money to convince voters to approve it. The top four candidates in each race will move to a ranked-choice general election ballot.
According to the Washington Post, the Alaska Survey Research poll presented a scenario in which four candidates — Murkowski, Tshibaka and Democrat Pat Chesbro and no-party candidate Dustin Darden — advance from the primary to the general election. The poll asked voters to list their first, second, and third choice for the Senate.
The poll found Tshibaka leads during the first round as voters’ top choice, ahead of Murkowski, 43% to 35%. The two other candidates on the race would trail them by at least 18%, the Post reported. Darden is the first to be eliminated under that scenario.
In the second round, Tshibaka would still lead Murkowski by nine points, and Chesbro is eliminated, with 20%.
But then comes the third round: The poll shows Murkowski gets the support that the two eliminated candidates received, moving her ahead of Tshibaka by four points, and allowing her the win — 52% to 48%.
So while Tshibaka is the favorite candidate among Alaskans, Murkowski wins by being the second choice of Democratic and independent voters in Alaska.
Alaska Survey Research, owned by Ivan Moore, is the only pollster doing surveys at this point that experiment with the ranked-choice voting method. His poll shows that 51% of those polled did not rank all the way down the choices in the Senate race. That makes the results of the poll especially unstable, since there are still many months to go until the Nov. 8 general election.