The plot thickens in Alaska

A poll of the Alaska Senate race by an outfit called Hays shows Lisa Murkowski in the lead and Joe Miller in third place. The breakdown is: Murkowski 34, Scott McAdams (the Dem) 28, Miller 23. 68 percent of respondents view Miller unfavorably. The poll was taken on October 25-26.
For a variety of reasons, I don’t believe the poll was accurate as of that time. For one thing, it’s my understanding that Murkowski’s lead over Miller in internal polling was considerably smaller than 11 percent.
However, new information about Miller may have driven down his numbers since October 25-26. Late on the 26th, Miller’s employment records from his job as a part-time attorney with local government were unsealed. The records show that Miller used company computers for political purposes (which he admitted in a debate on Oct. 24) and then lied about it.
Miller (along with McAdams) suffered a further blow today when the Alaska Supreme Court temporarily overturned a lower court’s order late Wednesday that prohibited the distribution of a list of write-in candidates at polling places. A lower court
had ordered the state Division of Elections to stop distributing lists of write-in candidate names, ruling that doing so constituted a “clear violation” of an existing state regulation. The Alaska Supreme Court will make its final ruling prior to election day.
No one knows how much of a drag Murkowski’s status as a write-in candidate (with or without the list) will be on her campaign. I’ve arbitrarily assumed that she needs to be roughly ten points ahead of Miller in the polls to expect to defeat him at the polling booths. It’s possible that Murkowski now has such a lead.
The Hays poll, if reliable, also suggests that McAdams has a shot. I had argued that Murkowski should not enter the race, in part because I feared her presence would help McAdams. But if Miller’s unfavorable rating is anywhere close to 68 percent (a big if), then McAdams would have had a good shot at defeating him in a two-way race. Meanwhile, Murkowski has said that, if elected, she will caucus with the Republicans, and I think it would be in her best interests to do.
On the bright side for Miller, the Palins are holding a big rally (is there any other kind of Palin rally?) for Miller in Anchorage today. Perhaps it will reverse Miller’s downward momentum.

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