Readers are describing to Must Read Alaska details of a survey they participated in by phone during recent days.
The 25-plus minute survey covered a wide range of topics best described as “a dog’s breakfast,” ranging from who would make the best governor to what phone company the participant prefers.
The survey was classic Ivan Moore, and although his company has changed its name to Alaska Survey Research, the caller ID said it was Ivan Moore.
Moore conducts polls seasonally, offering several clients a question or segment of questions in a fruit salad format with other clients. These polls can feel somewhat disjointed to respondents and the results are not rigorously scientific. A “multi-quest” poll is what a pollster does if he doesn’t have enough big clients.
The question about a three-way race for governor between John Binkley of Fairbanks, Mark Begich of Washington, D.C. and Bill Walker of Valdez indicates that the race for governor has begun.
The question assumes Binkley wins the primary for the Republicans, which is curious. No mention of Sen. Mike Dunleavy or businessman Bob Gillam, both who are very much in the hunt. No mention of Scott Hawkins or Ben Stevens. Not a peep about former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman or Rep. Mike Chenault.
Someone out there wants to get a read on a Binkley candidacy.
Who wanted that information? It’s doubtful that either Binkley or Begich purchased that question for the poll; Binkley would hire a different pollster, as Moore is the Democrats’ go-to choice, and Begich uses Harstad Strategic Research out of Colorado.
That leaves either Bill Walker, or just as likely this was a fishing expedition by pollster Moore. It’s information he can peddle to his campaign strategy colleague Jim Lottsfeldt, who runs a political blog as a side venture.
As interesting as the gubernatorial questions were those about the Anchorage mayor’s race, which takes place in April. The survey asked respondents to rate former Mayor Dan Sullivan, current Mayor Ethan Berkowitz or Nick Begich.
Wait … wha-a-a-t?
Nick Begich III is the nephew of former U.S. Sen. and former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich and state Sen. Tom Begich. The grandson of former Alaska Rep. Nick Begich, who died in office when the plane he was in crashed, this Nick lives in Eagle River as a staunch Republican with a staunchly Democrat name.
The poll also asked about mayoral matchups between Forrest Dunbar, former Mayor Sullivan and…wait for it…Nick Begich.
Is Nick planning to run for mayor? Unlikely. He is something of a venture capitalist who is active in Republican politics, but a mayoral position might bore him. He has, however, taken a keen interest in politics and ran for assembly against Amy Demboski in 2016.
The survey also asked people’s opinion of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young.
No questions were posed about the performance of the Legislature or about the special session, but the poll asked how people feel about the economy in their zip code and the economy of the state in general, on a scale of one to five.
The Alaska Dispatch News has used Moore to do surveys, back when there was money to spend on developing news stories through polling.
This time, it seems to be the business side of the newspaper needing information.
The poll went into a series of highly detailed questions about how people get their news — what percentage of print, online, TV, and radio do people use to consume news? Questions included asking people if they have a positive or negative opinion of the Alaska Dispatch News.
Then the pollster asked respondents if they would pay $5 a week for an online news service if they could trust it was from a team of well-respected journalists. Or would they pay five dollars for a weekly magazine that was delivered to their house that had a compilation of news from the week? Or would they pay 10 cents per story they read online?
Questions went on to discover if people want hunting and fishing news, information about events, Juneau news or news from the congressional delegation.
People were asked which online news sources they most used.
Mixed in the survey salad was a question or two about a phone app for hunting and fishing licenses — an app you could use to report fish catches from your smart phone.
Several minutes were devoted to which phone company participants preferred — GCI or ACS.
And finally, surveyors asked the political party the respondent was affiliated with.
MOORE OR LESS POLLS
Alaska is famously difficult to conduct polls in, and Ivan Moore polls struggle to deliver good information.
In late October of 2014, Moore predicted Mark Begich would win his re-election for U.S. Senate by 7 or 8 points. A week later, former State Attorney General and DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan won instead, by about four percent, for an 11-12 percent miss.
Moore had been quoted by former blogger Amanda Coyne as saying that people simply didn’t like Dan Sullivan: “He can push his qualifications as much as he likes, it’s not going to make people like him,” Moore said. “And that’s what voting for someone is really about.”
Yes, so it is.
Moore has long been a friend to Anchorage Mayor and former House and Senate member Ethan Berkowitz, stemming back to when they became neighbors. In 2008, Moore wrote, “I’ve been a pollster in Alaska for nearly 20 years. In early 1996, Ethan Berkowitz and I were next door neighbors. He stopped me in the driveway and said he was thinking of running for the Alaska State House. The rest is history, and the two of us have been essentially inseparable ever since.” Fascinating.
Moore continued: “AS PROMISED, here are some results from the last statewide survey we did… Don [Young]’s rating is 43.1% positive, 49.9% negative, 7.0% neutral. Ethan [Berkowitz] is winning by 5.5 points on the head-to-head… 51% to 45.5%. You heard it here first…”
That was 2008. The rest, as Moore might say, is history.