Two months ago I wrote in these pages that polling was showing that Lisa Murkowski is stuck in the high teens and won't survive a 4-way race (an ironic result of Prop 2 ranked choice voting) because she will come in third place, not second. Her team – per normal – scoffed, and wrote that off as Right-Wing smear.
Well, now Politico reports Democratic pollsters are seeing the same numbers:
Politico: New Poll Shows Murkowski 3rd in AK-SEN Race; Major Opportunity for Democratic Challenger
PHILADELPHIA — This morning, Politico reported a new poll of the potential field in the 2022 race for U.S. Senate in Alaska. The polling, conducted by Change Research and paid for by 314 Action Fund, found that Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s weakness in the race poses an enormous opportunity for a Democratic challenger to win in Alaska.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a tough path to reelection next year under the state's new ranked-choice voting system, according to a poll conducted last month for the Democratic group 314 Action, James writes in. Murkowski starts the race in third place, behind her Republican challenger and a Democratic candidate.
Republican Kelly Tshibaka receives 39 percent of the vote in a four-way race, followed by Al Gross at 25 percent and Murkowski at 19 percent (Gross, an independent, was backed by Democrats and endorsed by 314 Action in his losing 2020 campaign. He has not announced a 2020 run but has said he's considering the race). After proceeding through the ranked-choice process, Tshibaka leads Gross, 54 percent to 46 percent. (Change Research polled 1,023 likely voters May 22-25; +/- 4 percentage points)
What this release does not show but has been secured by the Anchorage Press is that the reason for Murkowski’s weak position (almost identical to her positioning months ago) is her favorability rating, which is holding steady at 33%. I assume this makes her probably the most disliked Senator in the entire United States. In political terms, her negative numbers are “baked in.”
What this poll also showed, as revealed to the Press, is that after ranked choice voting, Gross, who again hasn't even announced intention to run, only trails Tshibaka (a candidate full of skeletons in the closet yet to be released) 54-46, meaning that Gross, or whomever winds up the Democrats' choice, inherits a super majority of Murkowski’s second and third choice voters in the rank.
Let’s be frank, Al Gross isn’t a good politician. The last public poll in 2020 showed his favorable ratings similar to Murkowski’s and STILL he leads Lisa and is within striking distance of a very flawed frontrunner in Tshibaka.
The main takeaway here is as follows: the Democrats have an opportunity.
Lisa Murkowski is universally despised by Republicans, has some soft support from Democrats, and has some soft support from the few Alaskans who still consider themselves true independents. If the Democrats put up a candidate (let’s say, one with strong ties to the Anchorage community and organized labor) she will inherit even more vote that Gross inherited from Murkowski in this poll.
Additionally, once the negatives on Kelly Tshibaka are surfaced and aired (taxpayer fraud allegations, extremism on social matters, etc.), this race is not only attractive, it’s a dead heat: the Democrat vs. Tshibaka.
One last note: while the prognosticators thought Alaska was in play in 2020, Change Research, the above pollster, got the final score — accounting for all races — to the T.
They know what they are doing.