Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) remains ahead of her two rivals in her write-in Senate campaign in Alaska, according to a new poll released today by an in-state Republican pollster.
The poll, conducted by Dittman Research & Communications, shows Murkowski leading attorney Joe Miller (R), 37 percent to 27 percent, with the Democrat, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, in third place with 23 percent. Thirteen percent chose other candidates or were undecided.
Replicating the write-in process in a phone survey can be difficult, but the technique used by pollster Dave Dittman is unique to most public polls of the race. Respondents are first asked an open-ended question about their vote preference, and their choice of candidate is recorded. If the respondent is unable to make a choice, he or she is read the names of the candidates on the ballot, with the option of a write-in candidate. In order to choose Murkowski, the respondent must choose the write-in option and provide her name.
According to Dittman's polls of the race over the past two months, Murkowski's support has remained quite steady in the mid- to upper-30s. Miller began the general campaign, just days after upsetting Murkowski in the GOP primary, at 32%, but his support this month has fluctuated in the mid- to upper-20s as his negatives have risen. McAdams, meanwhile, has been unable to capture more than 25 percent in any poll Dittman has conducted.
While Murkowski's report remains steady, Dittman does not expect that her status as a write-in candidate whose name doesn't appear on the ballot will significantly affect her support on Tuesday. Dittman noted that, since all voters in Alaska vote with a pen and paper, writing in a candidate's name won't be that big of a problem.
"It's not that much more difficult to write in the name," Dittman said. "It's not the obstacle it's perceived to be."
The poll comes on the heels of two other in-state polls this week that also showed Murkowski ahead, though one poll -- a Hays Research poll conducted for a local union that has endorsed McAdams -- actually showed the Democrat moving into second place.
Dittman has conducted surveys for both Murkowski and Miller in the past, but he said this poll was not commissioned by any candidate or outside group. The current poll surveyed 421 "highly motivated voters" between Oct. 23-28, for a margin of error of +/- 4.8%.