Article published in the Anchorage Press on 7-10-14: 




Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 9:07 am | Updated: 9:11 am, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

Last week, when my column about Bill Walker’s recently released numbers on the Governor’s race came out, certain people didn’t like it. Oftentimes, when someone doesn’t like poll results they attack the poll, the pollster, the methodology—anything to detract attention from what the results say.

And when the results showed Bill Walker trailing Sean Parnell by just one point in a head-to-head, and Byron Mallott getting well and truly rogered by the Governor in an equivalent contest (by 21 points no less), it’s not unexpected that it was the Mallott campaign crying loudest.

 I’m surprised they didn’t impugn my mother’s virtue in the process, such was the “throw everything but the kitchen sink at it” mentality.   They even included the old bugaboo of last resort: “It’s a push poll”.   

So let’s see if it’s an inaccurate survey, shall we? 

Out of a sample of 750 adults, 42 percent lived in Anchorage, 13 percent in Fairbanks, 10 percent in Southeast, nine percent in rural Alaska and 25 percent in Mat-Su, Kenai and various other bits of Southcentral Alaska.

As far as ethnicity goes, 28 percent of respondents were non-white, including 15 percent Alaska Native, as it should be.

Of those surveyed 14 percent were Democrat, 26 percent were Republican, and just about 40 percent of the 584 voters who answered the Governor questions were conservative. 

The survey was also balanced by gender, something I still do despite the fact that Alaska is back to being slightly majority male. And it is appropriate age-wise, because I call cell phones and get those young ‘uns.

So on the surface of things, it doesn’t look like the Mallott campaign has much of a leg to stand on.  But let’s consider the acid test shall we? The Governor questions weren’t all we asked of the 584 likely general election voters. We also (drum roll please!) asked about the U.S. Senate race for exclusive release, here in the Anchorage Press.

Surely if this is an inaccurate poll that was deliberately slanted to make Mallott look bad, then Begich would be looking bad along with him, right? Well, let’s see.

We had 314 voters who were likely to vote in the primary and pick the Republican ballot. Given the choice of Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan, 14 percent go for Miller, 32 percent go for Treadwell and 35 percent are for Dan Sullivan with 19 percent undecided.

It’s sad, really, but money does talk, doesn’t it? You’d think after all the years Treadwell has spent in Alaska, and the varied, high-level things he’s done, more people would be supporting him. But along comes Johnny-Come-Lately, propped up by the establishment and of cash from Ohio, and people fall for it.

It’s on a par with buying what the oil industry tells you about SB21.  People grumble about politics but then they fall for this shit. It’s depressing.

Moving on to the general election, these questions, of course, were asked of the exact same 584 voters who were so dismissive of Mallott’s prospects. Clearly, Mallott would tell you, a thoroughly skewed and fudged sample.

As far as I’m aware, this is the first time anyone’s asked poll questions on the U.S. Senate race with the “minor” candidates included in the question: “If the 2014 general election for U.S. Senate was held today, and the candidates were Mark Begich (Democrat), Mead Treadwell (Republican), Scott Kohlhaas (Libertarian) and Vic Kohring (Alaska Independence), for whom would you vote for U.S Senate?”

And yes, I have made the assumption that Scott Kohlhaas’ better name I.D. will win him the Libertarian nomination and that Vic Kohring will cruise to victory at the top of the Alaska Independence ticket.

The results? Begich took 45 percent, Treadwell 34 percent, Kohlhaas six percent, Kohring five percent, with nine percent undecided.

Yes, I know, it’s tough to understand how Begich does so well in a push poll.

On to the next question, because I didn’t want to leave No Lips out of the equation. “How about if the candidates were Mark Begich (Democrat), Dan Sullivan (Republican), Scott Kohlhaas (Libertarian) and Vic Kohring (Alaska Independence), for whom would you vote for U.S Senate?”

This time, it’s a little closer. Begich gets 43 percent , Sullivan 37 percent, Kohlhaas four percent,  and Kohring five percent  with 11 percent  undecided.

Begich’s leads are really quite comfortable at this stage in the game, and it’s not difficult to see why. Among the 11 percent  of voters who pick either Kohlhaas or Kohring in the first race, Begich’s negative rating is 72 percent! The five percent  who vote for Vic Kohring are 71 percent  conservative. These are not Begich voters and most are being peeled right off of Treadwell and Sullivan in turn.

In fact, with a little bit of imputing based on favorability data, I reckon if the Begich-Sullivan race was just the two of them, (i.e. no Kohlhaas and no Kohring), then Dan Sullivan would be just one point down, not six.  It’s a huge impact on what promised to be a close race, and most of it comes from that old galoot, Vic Kohring.  He must be loving it.  Getting back at the people who sold him down the river.

Yes, some people don’t like what poll results say when they get released. They attack the messenger to draw attention away from the message. I think that if anyone’s poll results show you 21 points down, you should look inward at what’s making the results that bad, instead of focusing blame elsewhere.


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